Charity Commission opens inquiry into animal sanctuary over fundraising costs

The regulator says it has serious concerns about the rate of return it received from an unnamed fundraising agency

The Alternative Sanctuary
The Alternative Sanctuary

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into an animal sanctuary because of concerns about its relationship with a third-party fundraising agency.

The commission says it first engaged with The Alternative Sanctuary, which is based in Lincolnshire, on November 2016 as part of a project focusing on charities contracting with fundraising agencies.

In a statement, the commission said that it had serious concerns about the rate of return to the charity and its over-reliance on the fundraising agency.

The commission said that further regulatory concerns had also arisen about the agreement’s high costs and fees, the trustees’ decision to enter into the agreement and their management of the arrangement with the fundraising agency.

Mailing material produced by the charity had also been examined by the commission, and it said it was concerned that "the public is unaware of the proportion of donations that is consumed by the costs and fees associated with the agreement".

The charity’s most recent accounts show that the fundraising agency Euro DM provided £893,011 in donations for the year to 31 March 2015, but also that it cost the charity £794,034 to generate its voluntary income. However, the commission's statement does not name the agency involved.

The inquiry will focus on the administration, governance and financial management of the charity.

According to the commission's website, the charity had an income of £1.2m and spent £1.1m in the year to 31 March 2015, but the charity’s 2016 accounts are 64 days overdue.

The Alternative Sanctuary did not provide a comment before Third Sector's deadline.

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