THOUSANDS of pounds raised to help a sick girl with leukaemia is at risk after a probe uncovered “very serious” issues in the accounts of a charity holding the cash.
Big-hearted supporters of five-year-old Anna Penman donated £6000 to the brave youngster through the CharityGiving website, run by The Dove Trust, after taking part in a series of fundraisers.
But a Charity Commission investigation has found that it does not have enough money to pay all the good causes it owes – leading to its accounts being suspended and an interim manager being appointed to get to the bottom of the mess.
It means Anna’s family do not know if they will ever see the cash, which was to be spent on new equipment to improve her day-to-day life.
Her mum, Ann Marie, said: “We just got an email saying there were serious issues and that someone had been called in to take over. I just find it so upsetting that so many people who have either donated or gone to such efforts to raise this money have been let down in this way. Anna may not be able to get the equipment that can make such a difference.”
Anna, who also has spinal muscular atrophy, is on course to start school this month and while she is susceptible to infections and fractures, her leukaemia treatment is going well and doctors have given her a good prognosis.
A previous fundraising drive made more than £21,000 to pay for a new specialist wheelchair, and following the successful appeal, cash continued to flood in from people who had completed sponsored runs or marathons on her behalf.
The money for the wheelchair had been raised through Just Giving, but once that appeal ended, the family set up a page on CharityGiving.
“It’s fantastic that people have continued to support us and we know Anna is going to have ongoing needs,” Ann Marie, 46, of Linlithgow, said. “This was money raised in good faith so it makes it even more difficult that now we don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Good causes behind 22,000 fundraising pages have been left in limbo due to the discrepancies in the accounts of CharityGiving. As the assets held by the charity did not cover the amount owed out, money members of the public paid to one charity was allegedly being diverted to others. The practice has been deemed “unacceptable” by Crowe Clark Whitehill, the firm appointed to manage the charity.
An investigation was launched after the Dove Trust failed to file accounts for the 2009-10 financial year.
Pesh Framjee, who has been appointed interim manager, said: “We will be working closely with the Charity Commission with the aim of ensuring that donations made reach the charities for whom they were intended. As an ongoing matter, it is not possible to comment on individual cases at this time.”