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The real crooks of the charity sector

Howard Lake | 8 September 2008 | Blogs

I found the story of Watford and District Gingerbread being closed down by the Charity Commission upsetting. Not so much because these things keep happening, nor because they reflect badly on the charity sector, although both of those are cause for upset in their own right.
Rather, it was the last line in the story that I found especially galling. “The police are taking no further action”. This despite the fact that prima facie there is a strong whiff of the suspicion of fraud which at least deserves police investigation. This despite the fact that this has probably put Watford off limits for Gingerbread for the foreseeable future – and Gingerbread supports some of the most disadvantaged folk in the UK.
I remember when I was at The Children’s Society and we were beset by fraudulant folk selling roses in our name. It was impossible to get the police to take any sort of action, even when we caught a woman red-handed (she tried to sell roses to the entire Fundraising Management Team in a pub!!).
This sort of fraud does more to damage the reputation of charities than any amount of over-mailing or aggressive chugging. The Institute of Fundraising needs to lead a campaign to put pressure on the Home Office to recognise that this is fraud of the most offensive kind – effectively stealing money from the most vulnerable in society and should be treated with the full harshness of the law.
We must say “no more” to fraud in the sector and stamp it out wherever we see it. Come on, IoF, let’s make this a national campaign!