A children’s charity that, according to the Charity Commission, was used as a front for trustees to use donations for their own benefit has been shut down.
The commission found that Aiding Children was not operating for public benefit. The charity was removed from the register in March after the commission advised its trustees that the charity was "a betrayal of the privileged status that charities hold". However, the charity’s website is still accepting PayPal donations on its website.
The charity registered with the commission on 11 February 2013 to provide "relief of poverty and hardship among children", according to its objects.
The commission met with the charity in February this year, after concerns were raised and its accounts showed that only 6 per cent of its income was spent on charitable purposes. At a meeting, the trustees told the commission that donations totalling £3,500 were distributed to Children in Need and Plan International, but the only money that the commission could confirm was a £1,480 donation to the latter. The commission was also told that 30 per cent of donations made through charity buckets were paid to fundraisers, with the rest going straight into a now closed bank account of one of the trustees.
"The trustees assured us that no trustee was being, or ever have been, paid. However, following our access to old bank account records, we found regular payments to all of the former trustees," the commission’s operational compliance report on the charity says.
The trustees closed the charity and it was removed from the register on 22 March after the commission concluded that it "had no identifiable public benefit" and was "spending most of its income on paying its fundraisers and trustees to fundraise".
The report concludes: "This was a betrayal of the privileged status that charities hold and the experience of the commission staff meant that the true nature of the organisation was swiftly identified. This case is a clear example that the commission will act to disrupt the abuse of charitable status."
The commission also referred its concerns to Action Fraud, the national fraud and internet crime report centre.
At the time this story was published, Aiding Children’s website was still live and it was still possible to make donations via PayPal to the charity.
The commission did not respond to a request for comment before publication.
A spokesman for PayPal said the company was looking into the matter, but could not make any comment.
Calls and a voicemail message left on the mobile phone listed on the charity’s website were not returned.