Charity Commission quizzes military charities over use of funds

Army of Angels and Families of the Brave both face questions from the regulator about their involvement with the fundraising agency Sterling Support

Families of the Brave
Families of the Brave

The Charity Commission has "raised a number of questions" with the trustees of two military charities over issues that include unspent charitable funds and fundraising arrangements.

A spokeswoman for the regulator said it had contacted trustees of Army of Angels, which registered with the commission in August 2011, and Families of the Brave, which registered in May 2013.

Families of the Brave has also removed the official armed forces logos from its website, which it did not have permission to use, after receiving a request from the Ministry of Defence.

The commission spokeswoman said the regulator’s involvement with Families of the Brave began in February. "We have raised a number of questions with them relating to the charity’s fundraising arrangements," she said.

The commission has been in contact with Army of Angels since January. "We have put a number of questions to the trustees, including those relating to unspent charitable funds," the spokeswoman said.

Both charities have worked with the fundraising and merchandising agency Sterling Support.

The terms and conditions for two campaigns run for Families of the Brave, posted on Sterling Support’s website, say that a minimum of 20 per cent of the funds raised go to the charity.

Army of Angel’s annual accounts for the year ending 28 February 2013 show it spent £70 on generating voluntary income of £142,220 in the year 2012/13. This was down from £45,700 spent on generating £255,123 in the previous year.

Jack Sklenar, fundraising manager of Army of Angels, said the charity had stopped working with Sterling more than two years ago.

He said he had not heard of the concerns raised with the trustees.

Families of the Brave has yet to file annual accounts. Nobody was available to answer either of the listed telephone numbers on the commission website or its own on Thursday morning.

The client page of Sterling’s website shows the logos of both charities, along with the note "This page is currently being updated. Sorry for any inconvenience".

Nobody from Sterling answered calls from Third Sector on Thursday morning.

Families of the Brave is a member of the Fundraising Standards Board.

Alistair McLean, chief executive of the FRSB, said: "We have not been made aware of any issue with regard to these charities, nor have we referred any issues to them.

"The commercial arrangements that a charity enters into are entirely a matter for that charity’s trustees."

- Sterling Lotteries, a company based in Cumbria which manages charity lotteries for charities including Army of Angels, has asked Third Sector to point out that it is in no way connected with Sterling Promotions.

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