20 March 2018
Sunrise Radio is a non-charitable company which operates a radio station in London. Following the 2004 tsunami it made an on-air appeal requesting donations to help the victims of the disaster. A similar on-air appeal was made following the 2005 Pakistan earthquake.
Funds received were held in a separate bank account and were to be used to help those affected by the two disasters. However, by November 2010 the funds in the account (by then totalling over £181,000 including interest) had still not been applied for the purposes for which they were raised. The Commission opened a regulatory compliance case in November 2010 after receiving a complaint in respect of the retention of the funds.
The Commission found that the funds were held on charitable trusts and therefore fell within the Commission’s regulatory jurisdiction, despite Sunrise Radio being a non-charitable company. The representatives from Sunrise Radio who managed the bank account were therefore trustees of the funds.
The Commission found that the trustees had not acted appropriately. Donors would have expected the funds to be applied quickly given the urgent nature of the disaster appeals, and the trustees had no satisfactory explanation for the delay.
The funds have now been awarded to two registered charities delivering humanitarian relief in the affected areas.
The report also provides guidance for trustees who are considering launching a disaster appeal. The Commission recommends, for example, undertaking proper planning in order to establish whether the trustees have the capacity to deliver services as it may be more appropriate simply to raise funds on behalf of another charitable organisation instead.
The full report is available here.