The Charity Sleuths

What the Intelligent Giving researchers are uncovering, and whose turn it is to make the tea

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Thanks for keeping up with us.

The site is live. I hope it meets expectations!


Friday, October 27, 2006

Hello world (nearly)

Four days to go... and we decided it was time to show the charity world what we have been doing for the past year.

Yesterday we emailed the 332 charities we have profiled so far, asking them to look at their entries and let us know what they think. Their replies - good or bad - will be displayed on the site.

The 22 responses received so far have been encouragingly positive, many congratulatory. We were expecting a barrage of angry emails from fundraisers convinced we are out to get them, but it hasn't happened.

Barring one addled response from someone who seems incapable of navigating the site, people seem to have grasped that the purpose of Intelligent Giving is positive, and that we are not some evil force intent on destroying the charity world.

November 3rd is the official launch date but you'll be able to see the site on the 1st. We can't wait...


Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Donkey Sanctuary

In our quest to unearth the truth about how charities work, we’ve been tracking down rumours doing the rounds. And one of the most enduring of these is about The Donkey Sanctuary.

The Donkey Sanctuary is big: it spent over £13m last year. It looks after a lot of donkeys in Britain, and has ambitious plans for expansion overseas. First impressions are, it is well-run.

But closer inspection reveals that - as the rumours insist - it's sitting on a massive pot of money. When we opened up the Sanctuary’s annual report we discovered that they had over £38m (no, really) in the bank.

This might not have worried us if it they had concrete ideas of how this money was going to be spent – but apparently they didn’t (ie it wasn't designated for a particular purpose). As far as we knew, they were saving up for a donkey health spa, or an extra-large donkey Christmas party. They could spend this money any way they liked, and, as potential donors, that worried us.

So we went to a quiet place and took another look at the report. After some head-scratching, we discovered that they were, inexplicably, counting everything they owned as part of the cash they had to spend. If this sounds strange, you’d be right: it’s like protesting to your bank that they weren’t counting the value of your house in the balance of your current account.

What was the Sanctuary playing at? We rang their finance director, John Carroll, to find out.

Refreshingly, John admitted there was a problem with how they were doing things at the moment, and told us that next year’s annual report would be a lot clearer, even going so far as to tell us what they were going to spend on specific projects.

This is great news. So the Donkey Sanctuary is not a fat-cat charity, after your money to enrich itself. Rumour quashed.