A charity that boasted of raising money for local hospitals donated just 10 per cent of funds to the NHS, its own accounts show.
The Fundraising Regulator found the Hospitals Charity committed “serious breaches”, including false claims that “every donation goes towards your local hospital”.
The charity, set up the year before the pandemic, urged donors to fundraise through skydiving and bake sales, telling the public: “Your donations mean more equipment, beds and PPE at a time when it is vital, saving countless lives in your area.”
Analysis of the charity’s annual accounts shows that while it collected more than £223,000 from its formation in September 2019 to August 2022, only £22,240 has been distributed to NHS services.
The analysis, conducted by the Health Service Journal (HSJ), found almost £105,000 was spent on “the cost of generating funds” while £19,000 was spent on “charitable activities”, such as subscriptions, and depreciation of equipment.
Eleven code breaches
The Fundraising Regulator, which oversees charitable giving in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, opened an investigation after receiving 10 complaints about the Hospitals Charity.
It found the charity had breached the code of practice in 11 different ways, which included making misleading claims about where the donations would go.
Although a third-party agency carried out chugging on the charity’s behalf – taking a cut of donations – fundraisers were told to inform donors: “All of your donation goes to Hospitals Charity.”
The regulator said the charity told donors that all funds would benefit their local hospital, with an option to name a specific hospital when donating.
However, it could find no evidence of funds being set aside for any specific hospital.
The approach changed in 2021, so that donors were told donations would go to hospitals “in your region”.
But the regulator found no evidence that hospitals had received the donations.
Failure ‘to comply with the code’
It was also accused of using NHS logos without permission and using fundraising materials that suggested a direct relationship between itself, the NHS and its charity partner NHS Charities Together.
While Hospital Charity removed the NHS logo from its website, the regulator saw evidence that the charity continued to use similar materials in its face-to-face fundraising.
The regulator found “serious breaches of the [fundraising] code”, adding: “Hospitals Charity has not acknowledged these or demonstrated what actions it will take to comply with the code”.
The Telegraph has attempted to contact Hospitals Charity.
The Charity Commission said it opened a compliance case into the charity in November 2022 after concerns were raised.
A spokesman told HSJ: “We can confirm that we have an ongoing compliance case examining concerns about Hospitals Charity, including in relation to trustees’ oversight of the charity’s fundraising. We have liaised with the Fundraising Regulator about these matters and are aware of the Fundraising Regulators’ report.”