Half of complaints to Gosh Children's Charity 'related to Presidents Club'

The charity's annual report says it received a large number of complaints from people about its initial decision to return money to the controversial fundraising organisation

Complaints about the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity's decision to return money raised by the Presidents Club made up more than half of the complaints the charity received last year.

The charity's annual report for the year to 31 March 2018, published this week, revealed that it received 309 complaints when it announced plans to return £530,000 after it was revealed the money had been raised by the Presidents Club through men-only gala events where female hostesses were allegedly sexually harassed.

But its overall income rose by almost £10m on the year before to £103m because of a rise in donations and legacy income.

The Presidents Club announced in January that it would close after undercover journalists from the Financial Times attended one of the charity’s annual gala dinners and found that young women hired as hostesses were allegedly subject to groping, flashing and lewd comments by male attendees.

Initially Gosh said it planned to return the money, but in March said it would hold on to it.

Gosh received a total of 605 complaints in 2017/18, the annual report said, 51 per cent of which were "related specifically to the initial decision to return the donations from the Presidents Club".

The report said: "As a result of feedback from our donors and supporters, and following liaison with the Charity Commission, the board concluded that the charity should retain the funds from the Presidents Club while noting that it did not condone the reported activities that took place at Presidents Club events."

The Presidents Club complaints led to a 15 per cent rise in the number of complaints on the previous year – but once these were excluded, the charity actually experienced a fall in complaints of 44 per cent, from 526 to 296.

The other complaints were primarily about door-to-door fundraising, the report said.

"We understand that some people do not like this method of fundraising and we apologise wherein a small number of instances of its use has caused upset or any offence," the report said.

"In cases where our investigation shows that methods or behaviours of third-party fundraisers have not met our expectations, we take steps to ensure that appropriate follow-up action is taken either to retrain or discipline individuals responsible."

In his introduction to the annual report, John Connolly, the charity’s chair, said it had been a "challenging year".

He added: "Whilst this no doubt remains a challenging time for the charity sector, we are very fortunate to have passionate and dedicated people, in terms of staff, volunteers and our many amazing donors, who remain committed to doing the very best to help the children, young people and families who rely on Great Ormond Street Hospital."

A spokeswoman for the charity said: "We listen carefully to all complaints received as our supporters are incredibly important to us.  We have robust procedures in place to ensure that all complaints are properly investigated and a full and appropriate response is given."


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