Professional fundraiser for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home uses fake company to vet staff

  1. One of the best-known charities in the UK has been working with a professional fundraiser that uses a fake company to vet staff. This after the charity had reviewed its processes and checks because of the failure of a previous professional fundraiser – a failure which has now led to the loss of £43 056 given by the public, I can reveal. In a further disappointment, the charity refuses to explain how exactly it worked with the failed company, which is being dissolved.
  2. Battersea Dogs & Cats Home (registered charity number: 206394), which aims to “to never turn away a dog or cat in need of help,” reported an income of £36.72m for 2015. Burnley-based professional fundraiser QSAM Limited (registered company number: 07969509) vets its charity fundraisers with the RepChecker “system” from linked company RepChecker Ltd. One problem with RepChecker Ltd: there’s no company of that name registered at Companies House.
  3. The QSAM homepage this summer displayed the Battersea logo and a glowing testimonial from the charity (screen shot in Figure 1). While Battersea confirmed in an email that it had indeed worked with the company, the charity said that it hadn’t authorised use there of either its logo or the quote. Both quickly disappeared from the QSAM homepage (screen shot in Figure 2).
    Figure 1. QSAM Limited homepage at 9 September 2016

    Figure 1. QSAM Limited homepage at 9 September 2016

    Figure 2. QSAM Limited homepage at 23 September 2016

    Figure 2. QSAM Limited homepage at 23 September 2016

  4. QSAM undertakes face-to-face fundraising for charities at private sites such as shopping centres. It does this by signing people to direct debits for regular donations and/or lottery participation. The firm doesn’t organise cash collections. Incorporated on 29 February 2012, there are two directors: “husband and wife team” Stewart and Sandra Scott (screen shot in Figure 3).

    Figure 3. “Who Are We” page on QSAM Limited website at 20 August 2016

    Figure 3. “Who Are We” page on QSAM Limited website at 20 August 2016

  5. We lead the way in successful, ethical fund raising support for the [sic] UK charities,” says QSAM (screen shot in Figure 4). Key is the RepChecker “system”, which the company uses to vet its charity fundraisers. As you can see, RepChecker features prominently on the QSAM homepage (Figure 2), and throughout its website. RepChecker “sets the standard for the [sic] charity donations representatives,” according to the RepChecker homepage (screen shot in Figure 5). Mr and Mrs Scott are also behind the company responsible for RepChecker, RepChecker Ltd (screen shot in Figure 6).
    Figure 4. “Why Choose Us” page on QSAM Limited website at 20 August 2016

    Figure 4. “Why Choose Us” page on QSAM Limited website at 20 August 2016

    Figure 5. RepChecker Ltd homepage at 20 August 2016

    Figure 5. RepChecker Ltd homepage at 20 August 2016

    Figure 6. “About” page on RepChecker Ltd website at 20 August 2016

    Figure 6. “About” page on RepChecker Ltd website at 20 August 2016

  6. Yet there’s no company of that name registered at Companies House. In other words, it’s a fake company. I wrote (email) twice to the Scotts at QSAM requesting a comment on the fact that RepChecker isn’t registered as a limited company. I didn’t receive a response either time.
  7. So Battersea has been working with a company, QSAM, that both operates a fake company and invokes it to assure the public that its fundraisers can be trusted. The charity, it seems, failed to do due diligence.
  8. Battersea’s response revealed that the arrangement between the charity and QSAM was more complicated than it appears. Battersea works with another Burnley-based professional fundraiser, Capll Ltd (registered company number: 07051925) – and it was actually Capll that had in turn subcontracted the face-to-face fundraising to QSAM.
  9. A Battersea spokesperson said in a written statement: “Battersea Dogs & Cats Home receives no government funding and relies wholly on the generous donations of our supporters to raise vital funds for the unwanted and abandoned dogs and cats in our care. We work with external agencies to deliver our fundraising activities and occasionally these agencies will engage third-party partners to provide fundraisers for our campaigns. We run checks on all third-party suppliers and associated companies.”
  10. She added: “From September 2015 to February 2016 the fundraising agency Capll engaged a company called QSAM to undertake face-to-face fundraising for our charity at private sites. Our Capll contract specifies that full contracts must be in place with any third-party supplier, however the agency independently undertakes all of the checks in place to vet fundraisers on behalf of Battersea. In total, QSAM recruited fewer than 200 donors in this time period. We no longer work with QSAM so we therefore asked them to remove our logo and quote from their website.”
  11. I queried Battersea’s failure to address what I consider to be the key issue – the fake company and its role in supposedly assuring the public that fundraisers acting in the name of Battersea can be trusted. Its response was: “Battersea has never used Repchecker to vet any fundraisers, including those provided by QSAM.” Well, that’s alright then. Nevertheless the charity worked with a company, QSAM, that proclaims its “ethical” approach to fundraising – while both operating a fake company and invoking it to assure the public that its fundraisers can be trusted. Why did one of the best-known charities in the UK, with a multi-million-pound income, ever authorise such a company to raise funds in its name?
  12. There’s another reason for concern: this is the second time in quick succession that Battersea has come under scrutiny because of a professional fundraiser. The latest trustees’ annual report, made up to 31 December 2015, states on p.8: “One of the Home’s major door to door recruitment agencies went into administration in October; however, we were able to react very quickly, securing the services of a new agency within a week to ensure continued recruitment of donors and also undertook a review of our internal controls and procedures.” The name of the company then in administration isn’t disclosed in the report, but the charity has confirmed that it was Fundraising Initiatives Limited (FIL; registered company number: 03833132).
  13. On 22 May 2016, The Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported how FIL going into administration meant that each of several of the UK’s best-known charities, not only Battersea, could potentially lose thousands of pounds owed by the company: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/21/collapse-of-chugging-firm-costs-charities-360000-in-lost-donatio/.
  14. Administration ended on 28 October 2016, filings at Companies House show. The company is being dissolved. Not only does the latest trustees’ annual report fail to disclose the company name. But neither it nor the attached accounts report that Battersea was owed £43 056 by FIL when the company entered administration. This figure is revealed in FIL’s “statement of affairs” at that date, filed at Companies House. On dissolution of the company, it’s now clear that Battersea will receive nothing of the amount owed.
  15. A Battersea spokesperson said in a written statement: “Battersea had a long-standing arrangement in place with FIL, where they refunded our charity for donors that signed up but did not go on to make a gift to the Home. This helped protect the Home’s investment in fundraising. At the time of going into administration FIL owed Battersea some funds, which we were saddened to hear we would not receive, as every pound is precious to us and our animals.”
  16. It’s unclear from the statement what exactly the £43 056 owed by FIL represents. I asked Battersea to confirm whether it’d paid FIL a fixed fee for each new person signing to a direct debit for regular donations: the statement refers to “refunds” from FIL. Disappointingly, the Home refused “to go into more detail.”
  17. What’s clear, though, is £43 056 from the public never reached the dogs and cats in whose name it was raised. Shameful.
  18. Remember the trustees apparently “undertook a review of our internal controls and procedures” for working with fundraising agencies after FIL went into administration in October 2015. My revelations about QSAM call into question the effectiveness of Battersea’s newly reviewed processes and checks. Further, it’s bad enough that the charity has lost £43 056 through the failure of FIL. But its refusal to explain the derivation of the £43 056 is a further insult to all donors, actual and potential. Can we have confidence in Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and how it organises fundraising?
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One thought on “Professional fundraiser for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home uses fake company to vet staff

  1. Qsam Ltd have helped raised huge sums for UK cancer and animal charities and have got an exemplary record on conduct and compliance resulting in almost nil complaints and it is very unfair to indicate wrong doings particulary slanderous false allegations ! maybe you should give your real name and your record can be checked out? what have you got to hide “Dr” May ?

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