The Charity Commission recently announced the results of its second statutory enquiry into Hospice Aid UK which found ‘serious misconduct and / or mismanagement’ at the charity. I read Hospice Aid UK’s accounts for the last two years. From these, I raised a whole series of comments and questions that I am awaiting a response to.
So, does Hospice Aid UK (not, of course, to be confused with Hospice UK) really actually aid UK hospices?
Let’s start with the 2021 accounts, which were submitted 212 days late. They state that ‘Hospice Aid UK’s aim is to donate to hospices, in areas where funding is not readily available to them from other sources… complementing other hospice funding sources’. (page 2). This comment also appears in the 2022 accounts. However, all the areas of fundraising that Hospice Aid UK use, as stated on p4 of the report, are ones actively used by hospices. So, it seems that Hospice Aid UK is in fundraising competition with hospices themselves.
They state that ‘Hospice Aid UK did not receive any complaints from members of the public about our fundraising activities in 2020/2021.’ But then the very next sentence says. ‘This does not include expressions of dissatisfaction relating to our use of specific fundraising methods which most charities will face.’ (p4).
What is the difference between ‘fundraising activities’ and ‘specific fundraising methods’ and why has this differential been made? Did they actually receive any complaints or not? (Again, this wording also appears in the following year’s accounts.)
The total income for 2021 was £516,943. Their charitable expenditure was £256,183 and fundraising costs were £56,189. There was a surplus of £204,571. (p10). Let’s look at that charitable expenditure in more detail. How much of that income of £516,943 was actually spent in direct payments to hospices, in keeping with the stated aim of the charity? The answer is £38,251. The grants paid are listed in full on p16.
So, the direct financial payments to hospices came to 7.4% of the total income raised. Or, in other words, if you donated £1 to Hospice Aid UK, 7.4p would go in payments to hospices. This compares to £1 if you had given a donation of £1 directly to a hospice. Even higher if they claimed gift aid on your donation.
So where did the rest of that charitable expenditure of £256,183 go? P17 says that £144,541 of this was spent on ‘raising awareness and educational activities.’ Such activities are not listed in the aims or main objectives of the charity on p2. This expenditure included staff costs, data processing, direct mail costs, postage and other costs. Several of these headings sound more like fundraising costs than charitable expenditure to me, but no doubt I am mistaken in thinking that.
A further £36,228 of the charitable expenditure was spent on ‘Share of Support costs’ and £37,163 on ‘Share of governance costs.’ So, a total of £73,391. But by ‘share of’ what they actually mean is ‘all of’ such costs, as shown on p18. None of the support or governance costs were apportioned to fundraising. Even though Hospice Aid UK is a charity that exists to undertake fundraising.
The accounts state the total of ‘grants made to provide facilities to hospices’ was £91,932 (p17). This includes the £38,251 in direct payments mentioned above. The balance of this ‘grants’ figure i.e. £53,681 was actually most of the ‘share’ of support and governance costs mentioned in the point above. So, a significant majority of the money that is described under the grants heading, actually went on Hospice Aid UK’s support and governance costs, not as money directly given to hospices.
Their lawyer also posted a quote from Hospice Aid UK’s CEO in which she says, with reference to the second statutory inquiry into the charity undertaken by the Charity Commission, that ‘The inquiry was opened due to an accounting error which fails to properly record its charitable expenditure which in the 2021 accounts amounted to 82% of its income going to support patients in hospices and not 6% as quoted in the Charity Commission’s Press Release.’
As stated above, the total income in the 2021 accounts was £516,901. By my maths, 82% of this figure is £423,859. This is rather higher than the figure of £38,251, or 7.4% of income, that the accounts show went in direct financial grants to support patients in hospices. It’s even much higher than the total of £256,183 that the accounts say was spent on all ‘charitable expenditure.’ It would be interesting to know how that 82% is calculated? And was the figure stated by the CEO approved by Moore Kingston Smith the charity’s auditors?
The total income for 2022 was £368,529. Their charitable expenditure was £354,138 and their fundraising costs were £55,227. There was a deficit of £40,836 (p11). Interestingly, they have also re-stated their 2021 fundraising costs at a higher figure of £87,754 and charitable expenditure at a lower level of £224,618.
The actual amount of grants paid in the 2022 accounts is higher at £129,496. This is 35% of total income, or 35p in the £1 of a donation going in payments to hospices. So, almost two thirds of the income raised for hospices was not given directly to hospices.
This direct financial support is still only 37% of the stated total charitable expenditure. Again, this includes items which appear to relate to fundraising as per 2021. Again, all support and governance costs have been attributed to charitable expenditure and none to fundraising costs, even though the latter is the core function of the charity.
For more details, please see my Linked In posts. I’m not suggesting anything they are doing is illegal, more questioning why they exist and how they operate. Judging by the responses to these, many people share my concerns about Hospice Aid UK.
Nevertheless, hospices continue to apply for grants from them. Presumably they do think that the charity aids UK hospices?