The Wakefield-based charity Penny Appeal has submitted a “serious incident report” to The Charity Commission related to potential financial concerns.
After rumours circulated on social media about an incident at the Penny Appeal offices around 10 days ago, 5Pillars contacted The Charity Commission which supplied us with the following statement:
“In line with our guidance, the trustees of Penny Appeal submitted a serious incident report to the Commission, relating to potential financial concerns at the charity. We are currently assessing this information and will be contacting the trustees for further information. While this is ongoing we are unable to comment further.”
The Commission added that it does not currently have a formal statutory inquiry into the charity.
5Pillars also contacted Penny Appeal asking them to explain the situation. They said they were unable to comment at this stage as “an internal investigation has yet to report to the Board of Trustees, and any comment at this stage will prejudice the inquiry.”
In a statement the charity added: “At this stage the Board can confirm there is no significant risk to the existing operations. We have been made aware that messages are circulating on social media stating that Penny Appeal have been the subject of regulatory action including a raid on offices.
“The allegations are untrue. Penny Appeal continues to operate as usual and is not the subject of regulatory intervention nor has their been a raid at our offices.”
Under the Charities Act it is the legal obligation of trustees to report serious incidents to the Charity Commission.
Although it has yet to be established if any, or none, of these apply to the Penny Appeal case, a serious incident presents or potentially presents a considerable risk to the assets, beneficiaries or reputation of a charity.
When it comes to financial matters, these could include incidences of fraud or theft, loss of the charity’s money or assets, or damage to the charity’s property.
According to the Charity Commisison, the main categories of reportable incident are:
- protecting people and safeguarding incidents – incidents that have resulted in or risk significant harm to beneficiaries and other people who come into contact with the charity through its work
- financial crimes – fraud, theft, cyber-crime and money laundering
- large donations from an unknown or unverifiable source, or suspicious financial activity using the charity’s funds
- links to terrorism or extremism, including “proscribed” (or banned) organisations, individuals subject to an asset freeze, or kidnapping of staff
- forced withdrawal of banking services without an alternative
- significant data breaches/losses or incidents involving partners that materially affect the charity
Penny Appeal says it provides poverty relief across Asia, the Middle East and Africa, with programmes to help the poor and needy by building wells, caring for orphans, providing nutritious food, delivering emergency aid in response to crisis situations and providing healthcare.
It also works in the UK to help homeless people and women who have experienced domestic abuse.
According to the Charity Commission, its income for the financial year ending April 2018 was £24.6m, 75% of which it spent on charitable activities.
Penny Appeal is endorsed by celebrities such as the boxer Amir Khan and Pakistani actress Mehwish Hayat, and has partnerships with the Department for Education and the Jo Cox Foundation.
It was founded by the man behind SingleMuslim.com, Adeem Younis, who won Charity Chair of the Year in 2018 at the Third Sector Awards.
Earlier this year, Younis was also recognised by then Prime Minister Theresa May for his “exceptional service to the charity sector.”