Director of failed fundraising agencies receives nine-year ban

Chris Stoddard, who has run at least nine now defunct fundraising-related agencies, signed an agreement with the Insolvency Service shortly before a court case was due to begin

Chris Stoddard
Chris Stoddard

The director of a string of failed fundraising agencies has been disqualified from acting as a company director for nine and a half years.

Chris Stoddard, who ran CS Fundraising and at least eight other now defunct fundraising-related companies, has signed an agreement that disqualifies him from acting as a company director, the Insolvency Service said.

The Insolvency Service has been pursuing a long-running case against Stoddard, who has been director and/or major shareholder in nine companies that have gone into insolvency since June 2010, including CS Fundraising, CSDM Fundraising, Inspire Fundraising, Cleardata Direct Media and CS Incentive.

In 2015, an investigation by Third Sector into fundraising agencies run by Stoddard found that some of his charity clients were unhappy with the large amounts of funds that were being retained by the companies.

Earlier this year, Stoddard was asked to repay almost £345,000 to CS Fundraising by the company’s liquidator.

The company had been trading since 2012 and, at its peak, was sending out about 150,000 direct-mail donation letters each month on behalf of charities, the Insolvency Service said.

In 2016, MET Bowen, the liquidator of CSDM Fundraising, concluded that pursuing a claim of more than £1m against Stoddard would not be commercially viable.

MET Bowen said at the time that the claim would have included £374,075 of what it said were unexplained bank account transactions and £68,253 of unexplained credit card transactions "for which there is no reasonable explanation and which do not appear to be for the purposes of the company’s business".

Stoddard, 68, of Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire, signed the disqualification undertaking shortly before a court case brought by the Insolvency Service was due to begin last week.

He admitted breaching the Charities Act 1992 by misleading potential donors by failing to provide adequate information in fundraising materials, the Insolvency Service said.

Stoddard admitted causing CS Fundraising to keep public donations of at least £125,634 collected on behalf of charities between July 2013 and September 2014, according to the Insolvency Service.

He also admitted breaching his fiduciary duty by allowing a company he controlled to earn money from renting out the CS Fundraising mailing list without accounting for funds that were due to CS Fundraising from the funds raised.

The Insolvency Service was also unable to establish how much income the associated company had received from the move.

The ban, which prevents Stoddard from acting as a director of a company or taking part in the formation or management of a company without court permission, begins on 4 July and will last for nine and a half years. The maximum ban is 15 years.

Martin Gitner, deputy head, insolvent investigations at the Insolvency Service, said: "Members of the public who donate their money to worthy causes need to be confident that all funds, less agreed costs, are forwarded by the professional fundraising companies employed by the charities.

"In this case, Mr Stoddard failed to fully adhere to legislation directly relevant to the business of his company, he failed to ensure that all due funds due to a charity were paid over and he failed to act in the best interests of the creditors of CS Fundraising. 

"Directors who engage in such conduct will be investigated by the Insolvency Service and enforcement action will be taken to remove them from the marketplace."

Third Sector was unable to contact Stoddard for comment.

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