The Charity Commission has met the trustees of a wildlife sanctuary in Keighley, West Yorkshire, after becoming concerned about the small amount it spent last year on charitable activities – only 7 per cent of its income.
The latest annual accounts for Wildlife Rescue Sanctuaries show that it spent more than £220,000 of its income of £257,000 in 2012 on generating funds. Almost £18,000 went on charitable activities. The charity spent £19,651 on staff costs.
The accounts also show that £80,000 of its £113,000 income in 2011 went on fundraising costs and £7,600 was spent on the cause; £2,987 went on staff costs.
One trustee told Third Sector the charity was working hard to reduce its fundraising costs.
The UK Civil Society Almanac 2012 shows that the voluntary sector spends an average of about 73 per cent of its income on charitable activities, excluding grant-making, and 8.8 per cent on fundraising and publicity costs.
Wildlife Rescue Sanctuaries was first registered with the commission as Crystal Sanctuary Yorkshire Hedgehog Rescue in March 2007, but since then has changed its name three times. It first changed its name to Crystal Sanctuary Yorkshire Wildlife Rescue, then to Yorkshire Wildlife Rescue Sanctuaries, before becoming Wildlife Rescue Sanctuaries. The commission’s website does not say when the name changes took place.
The commission’s website shows that the wildlife charity has four trustees, three of whom share the surname Crowley.
A spokeswoman for the commission said in a statement: "The commission is aware of concerns regarding Wildlife Rescue Sanctuaries. Those concerns included the high cost of fundraising and the extent to which the charity was furthering its purposes.
"We have met the trustees and are continuing to work with them to ensure that our concerns are properly addressed."
The meeting took place on 2 August.
Marianne Crowley, a trustee of the wildlife sanctuary, said in a statement that the charity was trying to bring down its fundraising costs.
"As we explained to the Charity Commission, we are currently trying to reduce our fundraising costs, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to engage volunteers, and we are having to pay for professional fundraisers," she said.
"At the moment we are making every effort to contact other fundraising companies that offer higher percentages, which is proving to be difficult because some of the companies have offered us less than we are currently receiving."
She said the charity had recently opened a new wildlife hospital unit, which had rescued more than 200 animals in its first few months, and was committed to keeping this unit open. She said the money the organisation received from its fundraisers was a lifeline and it could not continue to operate without it.
She said the charity had changed its name because it started off working with hedgehogs but had begun to work with other animals. It also removed Yorkshire from its name because it takes in animals from all over England.
Crowley added that three more trustees will be joining its board at the next meeting, bringing the number of trustees up to seven.