Why isn’t the Mark Burgan Memorial Fund a registered charity?

  1. A fund set up in memory of a Liverpool soldier killed in Afghanistan isn’t a registered charity, despite apparently raising tens of thousand pounds for a group of registered charities. Several concerns arise from this fact. Most importantly, the Charity Commission repeatedly advises the public to donate to registered charities only. What’s more, the fund refuses to say why it isn’t registered with the commission as a charity. Not a good sign. But the fund isn’t the only organisation unwilling to answer legitimate questions. The Royal British Legion, one of the UK’s most trusted charities, won’t say why it’s granted permission to the fund to raise money on its behalf when the latter isn’t a registered charity.
  2. The Mark Burgan Memorial Fund (MBMF) was set up in memory of Mark Burgan, a Liverpool soldier killed in Afghanistan in March 2011: markburgan.com. It apparently raises money for a group of registered charities, including the Royal British Legion (registered charity number: 219279). Established in November 2011, the MBMF isn’t a registered charity. Several concerns arise from this fact.
  3. Most importantly, the Charity Commission repeatedly advises the public to donate to registered charities only.
  4. The MBMF sounds like it’s a charity and could be perceived as such. The Liverpool Echo newspaper, for example, erroneously referred to it as a “charity fund” in a May 2015 report: http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/fund-set-up-memory-fallen-9349755. There are reputational benefits of being a registered charity. Registration is with the Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales. The commission only registers charities satisfying various tests, particularly the public benefit test. As regulator, the Charity Commission has a responsibility to uphold trust and confidence in charities. Clearly, it’s problematic if the public perceives an organisation to be a registered charity when it isn’t one.
  5. But this is about more than reputation and legitimacy. How can anyone know how much money is being raised – and how exactly the MBMF spends it? Theres no transparency or accountability because the fund doesn’t file annual accounts for the public record unlike a charity at the Charity Commission. Further, the MBMF isn’t a registered company either, so again no annual accounts for the public record at Companies House. The MBMF is thus opaque and unaccountable.
  6. The fund is unaccountable in another way. I’ve repeatedly asked the MBMF in emails why it isn’t a registered charity. No response. Not a good sign.
  7. Someone else who won’t answer emails is Mark Pattison, the registrant of the domain name markburgan.com, according to the WHOIS information. Mr Pattison is a director of the company Northampton Marketing Ltd (registered company number: 04983922), whose registered office address is almost identical to the address on the “Contact Us” page for the MBMF. There are no names or phone number on the “Contact Us” page. Here it is at 25 February 2016: web.archive.org/web/20160225044940/http://markburgan.com/contact-us.php.
  8. Incorporated 3 December 2003, all 11 annual accounts filed for Northampton Marketing Ltd at Companies House are for a dormant company. Although apparently dormant, the company is the registrant of the domain name northamptonmarketing.co.uk, according to the WHOIS information. Mr Pattison uses the domain for the website of his business Northampton Marketing – not to be confused with his registered company, Northampton Marketing Ltd. There is no registered company number on the Northampton Marketing website (company websites must display the registered company number). It was Northampton Marketing – we are a small team with many years of experience” – that designed the MBMF website, according to the “Thank You” page on the fund website.
  9. The Royal British Legion confirmed to me in an email that it’s granted permission to the MBMF to raise money on its behalf. But the UK’s largest military charity refuses to explain why it’s happy to work publicly with an organisation that isn’t a registered charity. The lack of accountability from the venerable Legion on use of its name and public protection is disappointing.
  10. There’s a final concern about the fund not being a registered charity. There are significant financial (tax) benefits of being a registered charity. Why exactly is the MBMF choosing to forgo those financial benefits?
  11. The MBMF isn’t a registered charity. Why not?
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