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.Adam