- A-SOLDIERS-JOURNEY.CO.UK, a high-profile charity that raises funds for military charities, gave less than 14% (i.e. only £47 075) of its £347 496 income to charities in the year to 30 September 2015. Fundraising costs were excessive at more than 83% (i.e. £288 663) of the funds raised. Founder and trustee, Sgt Rick Clement, has just announced that the charity is to close on 1 September 2016, primarily because, he says, paid staff are necessary to continue – and he doesn’t want any of the funds raised in the name of wounded soldiers to be used for “wages and other costs.” Laudable, but strange: the charity already works with a professional fundraiser. Even more importantly, why is the charity spending too much on fundraising?
- In October 2015, I exclusively revealed that the then latest accounts for Blackpool charity A-SOLDIERS-JOURNEY.CO.UK (registered charity number: 1149233) hid both the cost of generating funds and the involvement of a professional fundraiser (see my 19 October 2015 post). So the accounts, for financial year-end (FYE) 30 September 2014, considerably overstated the expenditure on charitable activities. Now, for the first time, cost of generating funds is explicitly disclosed in the most recent accounts, for FYE 30 September 2015 – and it’s unreasonable at more than 83% (i.e. £288 663) of the £347 496 income.
- The charity operates by making grants to both individuals and organisations, according to the Charity Commission public register. Yet no grants were made to individuals in the year to 30 September 2015. While less than 14% (i.e. only £47 075) of the £347 496 income was donated to military charities, a shockingly low figure.
- Meanwhile, the charity’s official professional fundraiser, A Soldiers [sic] Journey Events Limited, changed name again on 31 March 2016, according to filings at Companies House (registered company number: 08897182). It’s now called Camo Events Limited. The company is linked to Prize Promotions Limited of Blackpool, the rip-off professional fundraiser that worked with failed military charity Afghan Heroes (registered charity number: 1132340). (For a review of the company, see my 19 October 2015 post.)
- A-SOLDIERS-JOURNEY.CO.UK isn’t a member of the official umbrella organisation for military charities, the Confederation of Service Charities (Cobseo).
- Sgt Clement was seriously injured in Afghanistan in April 2010, aged 30. “I lost both my legs and almost my right arm as well as suffering massive internal injuries that left me unable to have children after stepping on an IED,” he says on the charity website. Registered as a charity on 5 October 2012, A-SOLDIERS-JOURNEY.CO.UK has received much favourable coverage in local and national media due to Sgt Clement’s injuries and subsequent recovery. But no charity should be beyond scrutiny.
- On 10 August 2016, the Blackpool Gazette reported Sgt Clement’s decision to close the charity on 1 September 2016: http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/news/hero-soldier-winding-down-charity-mission-1-8059257. (The exact date of closure is on the charity website, not in the report.) Why closure? Primarily because, he says, paid staff are necessary to continue – and he doesn’t want any of the funds raised in the name of wounded soldiers to be used for “wages and other costs.” Laudable, but strange: the charity already works with a professional fundraiser. Even more importantly, why is the charity spending too much on fundraising?