Society Diary: The Fundraising Regulator doesn't own this car. So who does?

23 Nov 2018 Voices

Is this your Fundraising Regulator branded car? Diary knows a Fundraising Regulator that might like to have a word.

Happy Friday everyone. It’s definitely starting to feel a little bit Christmasy as the wintery weather closes in and, oh, who’s Diary kidding, let’s just get on with it shall we? 

This week in charity sector satire: Who exactly is it that owns the Fundraising Regulator-branded machine featured above? Plus, former charity minister Tracey Crouch gets a yellow card for doing some keepy-uppys in parliament, and why a man wore speedos to the JustGiving Awards.

The mystery of the FundRacer

As all great mysteries tend to do, this one started on a dark and chilly Sunday evening. While out and about on his own business, senior governance consultant at NCVO and eagle-eyed amateur sleuth Daniel Francis spotted a white hatchback car overtaking the vehicle he was himself travelling in. Given its branding, we have christened it the FundRacer.

Presumably thinking to get himself a few Twitter likes, he posted a picture of the car with the following tweet:

Come Monday morning and, for a few hours at least, the fundraising sector and trade press were merrily making various puns (‘Days of Funder’; ‘Funderdome’; ‘Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Gift Aid’) and lightly ribbing the regulator’s chief executive Gerald Oppenehim about speeding. 

Then, the warmth of the banter (and appalling puns) was shot through by a chilling plot-twist.

The plot thickened further during that Monday as Emma Hutchins, policy and communications manager at the Association of Charitable Foundations, also claimed to have seen the exact same vehicle in North London. 

Sweet. Mother. Of. God. If that, quite clearly FR branded car, doesn’t in fact belong to the Fundraising Regulator, than whose car is it? What possible reason could one have for falsely badging their car with the Fundraising Regulator’s name and livery? What sinister plans are afoot? 

Needless to say, this question has vexed Diary every day this week. Here, in no particular order, are just a few of the ideas that Diary has come up with to explain this bizarre phenomena: 

1: A shadowy group of crooks who, having no doubt read up on Civil Society Media’s extensive coverage of the workings of the Fundraising Regulator and its levy on fundraising spend, have repurposed their car with the FR’s logo, and are driving around London (and possibly the UK), going from small charity to small charity, trying to defraud them out of levy donations up front. Sure, that’s not particularly funny, but it’s possible… 

2: A playboy billionaire; with a secret, burning passion both for ethical and transparent fundraising as well as justice, and his trusty assistant/butler/young friend have taken it upon themselves to take Fundraising Regulation to the streets. 

Sure, a mid-range estate - a Prius, maybe? - isn’t exactly the Christopher Nolan Batmobile, but you never know, it might have a few gadgets stowed away somewhere. Maybe a roving microphone to conduct constant mystery shopping while prowling the high streets; a Heads up Display showing all of the companies licensed to conduct charity bag collections in any given council area; a built-in loudspeaker to ensure that no door-to-door fundraiser ignores a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign… maybe some missiles and an ejector seat too, you never know.

Unscrupulous fundraisers beware, for the Purple Knight is on the prowl.

3: Former regulator chief executive Steven Dunmore and chair Lord Michael Grade planning one last, awesome, road trip.  

4: It's all an elaborate prank by Sir Stuart Etherington. (And while we’re on the topic of Sir Stuart Etherington, and the Fundraising Regulator; has anyone ever actually seen Stuart, and the new chair of the regulator Lord Harris, in the same room?)

5: The BBC has kitted out the car on the sly, and is driving it around London as part of its filming for the new season of Strike which, as has been previously discussed in this column, is partly about charity regulation as well as the odd murder. 

6: It's actually the Fundraising Regulator's, and they're just denying it. Gerald Oppenheim and Stephen Service are using it to pretend they're in The Sweeney

Diary's particularly partial to this last idea. It's just so easy to imagine the call coming in, and staff jumping into action, Mockney snarl at the ready.

"Oi! We've got a report of unlicensed fundraising taking place on Peckham 'igh Street."

"We'll take the FundRacer. Get the, er, purples and twos on."

"Roger, guv'nor!"

"Daan this alley?"


"Litter. Makes the car look good."

And so on. Anyway, while the sector waits for the results of the Fundraising Regulator’s inquest into this mystery mobile, the speculation will only continue to grow. And, for the love of all that’s holy, if you happen to spy the FundRacer while you’re out and about, drop Diary a line.

Bit of a balls up

Next this week, to parliament, and the news that former minister for civil society (and just about everything else) Tracey Crouch, and four of her parliamentary colleagues, have received an official rebuke for doing keepy-uppys in the chamber.

That the recently departed Crouch was keen on football – she was also the minister for sport as well – is not news. The fact that John Bercow, Speaker of the House, went in with both feet, probably is. 

In a statement in the Commons on Wednesday, Bercow said: "It has been brought to my attention that some football skills were displayed in the chamber yesterday evening after the House rose.

"I am informed that the doorkeepers on duty told the members concerned that the chamber was not the place for this activity, however, those doorkeepers were advised that permission had been given.

"Let me assure the House that that permission certainly did not come from me."

Crouch and her women’s parliamentary football teammates had been due to play a game on Wednesday. In the end, it was cancelled. Which is a shame because they have some real tekkers… do football people still talk about tekkers?

It means technique, if not.

Not much left to the imagination

Finally this week, the annual JustGiving Awards were held in London on Tuesday night.

At a swanky reception at The Brewery in the city; the great and the good of the digital giving sector – and Civil Society’s fundraising reporter – went along to make merry, and hear some genuinely inspiring and heart-breaking stories about the courage and fortitude of fundraisers up and down the UK. 

Everyone was dressed up to the nines in glamorous cocktail dressed and sleek suits. Well, almost everyone. Except of course Speedo Mick.

Yes Speedo Mick has grown a certain kind of celebrity for his fundraising efforts which, basically, just involve him wearing nothing but an Everton-blue swimming cap and speedo at inappropriate times and in inappropriate places. It's probably also worth prefacing this story by saying that big Mick was up for an award on the night.

Anyway, Speedo Mick certainly was the buzz of the evening – one only has to look at the #JGAwards to see all the different tables that got a selfie with him –  although it’s fair to say he might not be on one JustGiving staff member’s Christmas card list this year.

Perhaps because he’d been in the loos changing, or maybe just because he wanted to make an entrance, Speedo Mick came in late, just as the first musical act of the night was starting up. Diary hears that if looks could kill… well, you get the picture.

Anyway, Diary's heard it was a great night and Speedo Mick clearly enjoyed himself. As Lemar took to the stage to finish the night off, your dyed-in-the-wool Evertonian took to the stage to dance along.

You do you, Mick! He looks in absolutely top nick as well, to be fair. 


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