An organisation established to promote the values of Magna Carta is seeking to become a charity and hopes to obtain funding from private philanthropists and corporations.
The Great Charter Foundation has been set up by a group of interested individuals in anticipation of the 800th anniversary next year of the historic agreement between King John and England’s feudal barons.
One of those involved is Steve Moore, a board director of the Big Society Network, a company set up by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and controlled by a charity, the Society Network Foundation.
Moore is also chief executive of Britain’s Personal Best, a charity associated with the Society Network Foundation that encourages people to take on personal challenges.
Last month, the National Audit Office criticised the Big Lottery Fund for its management of £1.8m of funding awarded to Britain’s Personal Best and Your Square Mile, an organisation promoting community cohesion.
The NAO also found that the Cabinet Office broke its own guidelines in the awarding and management of almost £300,000 to Get In, a youth volunteering charity. Part of this grant was not paid because of poor performance.
The Great Charter Foundation was set up in March, shortly before the government said in the Budget that it would put £1m into funding events to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. Moore told Third Sector that the proposed charity, if established, would not seek any of this funding.
"I don’t expect it to attract any public funding," he said. "I don’t think that a £1m fund would be appropriate for the charity’s objectives, because it is for ceremonial events around the anniversary and this charity is not part of that.
"There is no money behind it yet, but we wouldn’t be setting it up if we didn’t think we could attract funding in the future. We expect to fund it through private and corporate philanthropy."
He said the chair of the proposed charity was Paul Birch, an internet entrepreneur. "I want to make it clear that this is not my charity," Moore said. "I’ve been helping in the process of setting it up because I am interested in the idea of the Magna Carta in the context of education and public engagement and the contemporary nature of human rights and civil liberties. I have no idea what my role will be. The trustees will decide who the chief executive is. It is unlikely to be me."
Moore said an application was filed with the Charity Commission for charitable status at the end of June by Amanda Carpenter, a co-founder of the Big Society Co-operative, a company that helps create consortia of public, private and civil society organisations, and they were expecting a decision in the autumn.