Dove Trust interim manager urges charities to be patient

Pesh Framjee, who suspended the CharityGiving website, says his team has been inundated by calls and emails

Pesh Framjee
Pesh Framjee

The interim manager of the Dove Trust, the charity that owns the suspended online giving website CharityGiving, has urged charities to stop contacting him with queries about missing donations.

Pesh Framjee, head of non-profits at the accountancy firm Crowe Clark Whitehall LLP, was appointed interim manager of the trust by the Charity Commission on 6 June as part of its statutory inquiry into the charity.

The investigation was opened because of serious concerns about mismanagement in the administration of the charity by the trustees in relation to CharityGiving.

The commission announced last week that Framjee had suspended CharityGiving after an assessment showed a shortfall between the funds owed to charities and the cash held by the Dove Trust. The regulator subsequently said that the shortfall could be more than £250,000.

Framjee told Third Sector today that his team had fielded hundreds of calls and emails from concerned charities and from people who had raised funds through the site.

He said the volume of inquiries meant his team could not answer requests about the balances on specific fundraising pages while focusing on their main priority, which is assessing how much is owed to individual charities and considering what assets are available to pay them.

They have so far responded to more than 200 emails and calls, a situation that Framjee said could not continue.

Framjee was also critical of a statement by Dove Trust trustees on Monday that said a meeting between him and "a large charity" could "ensure that all charities and good causes who have raised funds via CharityGiving do not lose out at all".

"The comment was premature," said Framjee. "It raises the expectations of charities that they will get their money back."

Framjee said he wanted to set up a mechanism that would enable charities to resume fundraising as soon as possible in a way that protected and ring-fenced the money. Discussions were in progress with other portal providers to see how funding could be resumed, he said.

He said the charity did not have enough money in the bank to pay the charities that should be receiving funds. This meant that income for one charity was being used to make payments to another.

He said two shortfalls were involved – an immediate cash shortfall of funds in the bank and an overall assets shortfall.

The last full accounts available for the Dove Trust are for the year ending 5 April 2009, which the charity filed with the Charity Commission on 7 August 2012. The independent auditor’s report says it is unable to form an opinion of whether the financial statements "give a true and fair view" and whether they have been prepared in accordance with the Charities Act 2011.

The accounts show details of debts, including one of £47,884 due from Keith Colman FS Ltd. Keith Colman is the founder and a trustee of the Dove Trust.

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