How hard can it be to donate to charity?
The Ten Percent Foundation is a charitable trust registered with the Charity Commission in England and Wales. The Foundation was set up in 2003 to distribute the profits donated by companies within the Ten Percent Group of websites.
All the companies within the Ten Percent Group donate 10% of net profits every year to charity as part of their general commitment to society, coupled with the moral and ethical stance taken by the founders when the companies were set up.
Every year the trustees of the Ten Percent Foundation meet to discuss the donations we are going to make from the profits that have been put into the foundation, and we come up with a list which is usually a selection of charities the trustees have a personal interest in, charities suggested by clients, candidates, transcribers, translators, and suppliers, and also charities who make direct applications to the Ten Percent Foundation.
Donating is Easy?
You would think that this would be an easy process, and that charities would be grateful for the money that we want to donate to them. Some charities are incredibly grateful and go out of their way to provide us with lots of information about the plans they have for the money we’re going to donate to them and details of their current work and updates following the donation we make, but others are a complete nightmare.
Firstly, there are the charities who almost feel quite annoyed that you want to give them the money. An example of this would be a nameless charity, somewhere in the Midlands, who were nominated some years ago. On paper they sounded amazing and quite inspirational – part of their remit is to provide instant help and advice to anyone requiring assistance with day to day living - they work intensely with the homeless on the streets for example.
We got in touch with them to donate money, but got no response at all. The person who had suggested them managed to make contact, and after a while got a response back with their bank details so that we could send them our donation. They did not acknowledge that the money had been sent to them and we got no information from them about where the money had been spent.
We appreciate entirely that smaller charities can be incredibly busy juggling lots of balls all at once and are physically unable to spend much time dealing with the likes of us as donors. However, as an absolute minimum, we do like it when someone gets back in touch to say a quick thank you to confirm receipt.
This year we had a charity nominated for a donation. On paper they looked really good, and we wanted to give them some money, because we could see that the charity’s aims were in line with our own, and we could see a clear benefit for providing support to them. They were quite clearly a charity who would be likely to struggle for funding.
I gave them a ring to tell them that we wanted to give them money, and to ask for the best person to speak to. When I called, the manager I spoke to informed me that the charity was a bit busy at the moment and didn’t have time to speak to me so could I send them an email please.
We sent them an email to say that we wanted to give them some money; quite possibly around £1000 without any catches, but got no response. I chased up again, but was unable to get through to anyone who could assist.
So essentially although we wanted to give the charity £1000 without any ties or restrictions other than an acknowledgement we had sent it and if possible to tell us what they’d spent it on, we got nothing at all back from the charity.
From time to time we do come across charities who are highly reluctant to communicate with us because they are very suspicious as to who we are. We can understand this – our companies get emails every day telling us that somebody in Nigeria/Panama/the Cayman Islands etc.. wants to give us £20 million because we're such nice people, and could we make contact (NB if you are a genuine donor of £20 million please give me a ring directly!). However we not only email charities, but we do also telephone them, so our emails do not come out of the blue. This year we have had to discount four charities who have failed to communicate with us at all, even though we have telephoned, left messages, and emailed.
Some time ago we donated to a larger size charity who were looking for assistance with a clean water project in Africa. From memory I think the donation was £2,500 and we asked the charity if they minded us writing about the project and also if they could provide a bit of further information about their work. The charity got back to say that if we wanted to write about the project and use their logo or any pictures from their website we would need to pay a licensing fee. We informed them that if they wanted our £2,500 they needed to stop being so silly and take the donation in the spirit it was intended to be given and not behave like a multinational business! They took the money and we wrote the article. However we have not donated to them again.
Many years ago we tried to donate to a children’s charity in London, who shall remain nameless, and we sent them a cheque which was not cashed. We followed this up with another letter to ask them to confirm if they had received the cheque and got no response. We then chased this up and again received nothing back.
I do wonder at times whether some charities and charitable organisations have more money than they actually need and anyone trying to give them money is a bit of a hassle for them. This may be true, and I do appreciate that some charities are extremely well-funded and are not in need of any further financial assistance. Others simply don’t have the time to deal with the administration of a donation.
Our Foundation does not incur any administration costs or trustee expenses at all. In the c20 years of our existence the only administration fees have been bank charges by the CAF bank of £60 per year (until we moved to Triodos last year to save money). All our trustee meetings, administration of correspondence, charity research, website hosting, website maintenance, donation management etc.. is paid for either by the workers individually with their time or expenses are funded by our companies. We estimate that it takes about 30 hours each year to collate, discuss and distribute our donations. A few charities will take up more time than all the others put together for the reasons given above.
We want to donate to charity and we are keen to carry on the aims of our founders in distributing 10% of our net profits every year to charity. Most charities make our lives very easy indeed and are a pleasure to deal with. However, its never simple working with a small minority of charities - they remain awkward to deal with!
Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and a non-practising Solicitor. Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment provides online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Licensed Conveyancers, Legal Cashiers, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals.