Charities benevolent fund hits donor snag

Joe Gill

The Charity Employee Benevolent Fund is struggling to find funds to help charity workers and their families in need, because most charity constitutions forbid corporate donations.

The fund, which registered as a charity 18 months ago, is urging charities to set up payroll giving to allow their employees to donate. It points out that charities with fewer than 500 employees - which is most of them - would be eligible for match funding from the Government under its new incentive payroll giving scheme.

The benevolent fund aims to make grants and advise beneficiaries on claiming benefit entitlements for illness, financial loss, disability and bereavement, but it needs long-term financial support for its grant making.

Sector organisations supporting the initiative include the NCVO, the Association of Charity Officers, the Institute of Fundraising and the Charity Finance Directors' Group. Trustees include IoF deputy chief executive Andrew Watt and Confectioners Benevolent Fund director of welfare Liz De Boer, who is the fund's chair.

One adviser to the fund is Geoff Atkinson, who was chief executive of the Motor and Allied Trades Benevolent Fund for 26 years.

He said: "The fundamental difference between us and every other group is that, whereas companies often contribute to their own industrial funds, most charity constitutions limit the ability to make similar donations."

Atkinson said the fund hopes eventually to persuade the Charity Commission that the limitation on non-beneficiary corporate donations by charities should be lifted because the fund "is a legitimate expense for the welfare of employees".

It is also seeking contributions from businesses with an interest in the charity sector, such as IT and professional fundraising companies.

"If the Charity Employee Benevolent Fund is to assume its responsibility to Britain's 500,000 charity employees, it needs the charity sector to become involved and take ownership of it," Atkinson said.

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