FUNDRAISING NEWS: Air ambulance warns of partners

ANNIE KELLY

Charities should run lotteries in-house in order to retain sufficient control over their funds, according to Devon Air Ambulance, which recently lost around £250,000 after a commercial fundraising partner folded.

"Similar stories are waiting to happen elsewhere in the sector,

said Edmund Probert, a senior manager at Devon Air Ambulance. "Organisations which use commercial lottery agencies should think seriously about taking control of their own operations.

The Charity Commission has just published a report into the findings of its inquiry into the incident. Broadclyst Fundraising Society went into liquidation owing the charity £250,000 for a scratchcard lottery campaign.

Tony Quinn, senior investigations manager at the Charity Commission's Taunton office, said that the airbulance's trustees had failed to exercise effective control over Broadclyst Fundraising.

"The lesson for the future is that trustees need to recognise that raising funds through commercial partnerships carries inherent risks,

he said.

"The trustees allowed the charity to become so reliant on the fundraiser to the extent that when the business collapsed, it was owed a large amount of money."

However, the Devon Air Ambulance insists that it took the necessary precautions and was satisfied with the checks in place.

"Our experience shows that you can't be too vigilant,

said Probert.

"We did everything in our power to monitor the relationship, including monthly meetings with auditors and Broadclyst Fundraising and liaising with the gaming board, yet we were still taken for a ride."

Confusion remains over exactly what happened to the money owed to the charity, although Probert expects this will be revealed when the liquidator's report is released.

In a letter to supporters, Devon Air Ambulance said: "Technically, these funds were not 'lost' as many reports have said, because the charity did not have any funds in the first place.

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