Captain Tom Foundation accounts cause Twitter storm

The accounts for the Captain Tom Foundation caused a Twitter storm yesterday after it was revealed the charity spent £125,000 on fundraising consultancy fees between May 2020 and May 2021.

Matthew Champion, executive editor for Vice World News EMEA posted the tweet that sparked controversy among the general public and leaders within the sector.

Members of the public criticised the charity, suggesting the money should have been used directly for the causes it was fundraising for.

However, staff working within the charity sector accused Champion of ‘demonising’ money spent on fundraising staff. “Spending money on staff should not be something charities are terrified of doing,” said one reply.

One fundraiser called tweets like this a “kick in the teeth.”

Another reply pointed out that the charity had a 9:1 return on investment, something that is above average in the industry. Raising £4 for every £1 spent is usually considered to be 'standard'.

Purity Brighton CEO, Helen Mackenzie pointed out that if one person was to give £5 to the foundation, "would they prefer it to be just £5 or use someone, such as a fundraising consultant, to turn it into £45?". “It’s not immoral to make your donation go further," she said.

People accused Champion of intentionally creating a ‘pile on’ when it sparked a wider debate in the comments too, with discussions around charity staff in general. Some suggested that people working for charities should instead be volunteers and do the work for free.

The tweet also caused debate among the replies around admin costs and what was considered ‘reasonable’ overheads.

One person suggested that all charities should have to tell people salaries and costs before they donate – not realising that charities, by law, have to publish accounts yearly, as another reply pointed out.

A tweet from a fundraiser said she was so cautious about how she spends donors’ money that she often ends up staying in hotel rooms that “aren’t fancy enough to have doors that lock from the inside” to the extent that she got a doorstop for Christmas.

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