Smiling Faces Children’s Foundation: whither the website?

  1. On 16 July 2014, I reported my suspicions about a new children’s charity, Smiling Faces Children’s Foundation (SFCF) and its official professional fundraiser, Support Aid. Celebrity Valerie Singleton is patron of SFCF. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/why-is-valerie-singleton-patron-of-smiling-faces-childrens-foundation/) I also documented changes to the SFCF website two days later. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/smiling-faces-childrens-foundation-whither-the-head-of-fundraising-and-support-aid/)
  2. The original SFCF homepage, http://smilingfaces.org.uk, has apparently disappeared. It now says only: “The SFCF website is not available for public view for the time being.” (There is no date.) So much for transparency and accountability.
  3. The Support Aid website, http://www.supportaid.co.uk, has altered again since July too. On 16 July 2014, it suddenly said only: “Website under revision”. Well, now visitors are told: “Website is Offline.” (There is no date.) Again, so much for transparency and accountability.
  4. The entry for SFCF on the Charity Commission charity register is unchanged.
  5. Oh Valerie! This summer, Ms Singleton wouldn’t tell me why she chose to be patron of SFCF. Perhaps now she could also explain what exactly is happening at the charity. No one else is.
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Our Local Heroes Foundation: Less than 17% of £3 price of wristbands goes to the charity

  1. Less than 17% of the £3 price of wristbands sold on the street in the name of a military charity by its official professional fundraiser actually goes to the charity, a Freedom of Information request to Manchester City Council reveals. Fundraising costs of over 83% are unreasonable, especially for such a popular cause.
  2. Prize Promotions Limited of Blackpool is the official professional fundraiser for Our Local Heroes Foundation. In July, Prize Promotions Limited staff sold wristbands on Market Street in Manchester city centre on behalf of the charity. In 2013, when previously working with Afghan Heroes, Prize Promotions Limited repeatedly sold that military charity’s wristbands there without a street collection permit. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/the-fundraiser-the-comedian-and-the-ex-cabinet-minister-the-tale-of-a-military-charity/) But at least this year the selling activity was legal: Prize Promotions Limited had obtained a street collection permit for Manchester city centre 15-18 July. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/correction-our-local-heroes-foundation-did-have-a-street-collection-permit-for-manchester-city-centre-16-july-2014/)
  3. The application that the council approved for the street collection permit specifies the fundraising costs for each wristband sold. Less than 17% (i.e. only £0.50) of the £3 price of a wristband actually goes to the charity. In other words, the fundraising costs exceed 83%. So where does the other £2.50 go? The seller receives £1.00 commission. Then the business charges £0.50 VAT. Finally, Prize Promotions Limited retains £1.00 for “office overheads”.
  4. How many people, if any, who bought a wristband from the street sellers in Our Local Heroes Foundation branded clothing would still do so if they knew that only £0.50 of their £3 actually reaches the charity? The dark green tops of the sellers’ uniform had “Supporting British Forces” on the back. The non-transparency of this fundraising activity means that the public is unaware of the excessive payments to Prize Promotions Limited.
  5. Then there is the unacceptable conduct of the sellers. On 12 September 2014, I received a disturbing independent report of Prize Promotions Limited staff “harassing” and then aggressively “pursuing” a young woman who declined to buy a wristband – location: Watford town centre. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/09/26/our-local-heroes-foundation-prize-promotions-limited-staff-harass-and-then-aggressively-pursue-woman-who-declines-to-buy-wristband/)
  6. The public can’t be confident in or trust the sellers. Last year, when Prize Promotions Limited repeatedly sold wristbands on behalf of Afghan Heroes also on Market Street in Manchester city centre – then illegally – different sellers gave me very different answers to the question, how much of the £3 price goes to the charity? (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/the-fundraiser-the-comedian-and-the-ex-cabinet-minister-the-tale-of-a-military-charity/) That there was such a discrepancy in answers itself shows that the staff of Prize Promotions Limited can be dishonest and lack integrity. They can’t all have been telling the truth; if indeed any of them were. We can only wonder how much of the £3 price actually went to Afghan Heroes. Or how little.
  7. Here Our Local Heroes Foundation acts against the public interest in two ways. First, with its unreasonable fundraising costs of over 83%, especially for such a popular cause. Second, by hiding the fundraising costs. In fact, the wristbands are even more of a rip-off than the charity’s “prize draws”, funnily enough also organised by Prize Promotions Limited, where the fundraising costs are 80%. In its “prize draws”, the charity also acts against the public interest by again failing to disclose the fundraising costs. Commission is at the heart of the “prize draws” too: Prize Promotions Limited recruits “sales promotion staff” (ticket sellers) online, saying that these people “earn great commission”. (http://www.blackpoolsalesjobs.co.uk/prizepromotions.php) Prize Promotions Limited staff travel the UK, selling the charity’s wristbands on the street and its “prize draw” tickets in shopping centres and train stations.
  8. Ben Wallace, the MP for Wyre & Preston North (http://www.benwallacemp.com), is a patron of Our Local Heroes Foundation. In April, I wrote to him (email) with my then concerns about the charity due to its use of professional fundraiser Prize Promotions Limited. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/our-local-heroes-foundation-why-are-you-a-patron-of-a-charity-that-works-with-prize-promotions-limited/) Mr Wallace can’t say he didn’t know.

Letter in The Independent on fraud in the charity sector and the number of military charities

  1. On 18 September 2014, I had a letter published in The Independent on fraud in the charity sector and the number of military charities.
  2. It’s available on the newspaper’s website [dated 17 September 2014]: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/letters/letters-scotland-is-not-cuba-salmond-is-no-castro-9738932.html. See the last letter on the page.