Tag Archives: Fundraising Regulator

POLITICS VERSUS THE CHARITY SECTOR – SPOT THE DIFFERENCE?

The public have long been cynical about the honesty of politicians, and recent events in Westminster and in Downing Street have done nothing to change that cynicism, likely only embedding it deeper.

It is a sad fact that with cynicism comes almost an acceptance of dishonesty in politics. While some are moved to anger, many sit idly by and simply shrug their shoulders and continue about their lives.

But what has this to do with the charity sector? 

The public have a right to expect honesty and integrity from charities. Many, blindly, believe that the sector is an honest one, one driven by integrity and managed by good people, people with morals.

And, for most of the sector, that may well be true. But how many dishonest charities would it take to undermine confidence in the rest?

If one of the nation’s largest charities has displayed dishonesty, hypocrisy, poor morals, low integrity and turned a blind eye to fraud, is that an alarm bell for the whole sector? And, if so, what would the sector do to protect itself?

It is not a theoretical question. For over a quarter of a century Cancer Research UK has told a range of untruths about the origins of the Race for Life. For 25 years successive CEOs, Chairmen, and others have hypocritically accepted recognition for their own work, including knighthoods and other honours, while denying any recognition (let alone thanks) for the man who created the Race for Life.

What does this say about the integrity and morals of that charity and those running it?

And when it emerged that it was, initially, a Cancer Research UK employee who stole the idea for the Race for Life from Jim Cowan (its actual creator), and who covered up her tracks before fraudulently claiming to be the event’s originator on her CV, what did Cancer Research UK do? They looked the other way. No comment. Nothing to see here.

That same individual is now in the employ of two other charities, one well known (Barnardos), the other less so (Cultivating Mindfulness). Both are aware of her dishonest and fraudulent past. Both choose to look the other way.

There are serious questions to be asked of those tasked with running these charities. However, their lack of action to date suggests that they may be lost causes; too far gone down a dishonest and immoral pathway.

But those serious questions can be asked of other charities, aware of some (if not all) of the above. What does their silence say about them? About their integrity?

They might point to those responsible for ensuring the honesty and integrity of the charity sector in the UK and ask why they fail to act? But looking the other way while expecting others to act is not an indicator of moral fortitude, of integrity.

And, from those who do have ultimate responsibility for the sound running of the sector? Silence.

The Charity Commission? Silence.

The Fundraising Regulator? Silence.

The NCVO? Silence.

They choose to look the other way. They all state the importance of integrity. But none are prepared to act with integrity and properly investigate Cancer Research UK’s quarter of a century of lies and deceit, of covering up the origins of their largest, most successful fundraising event.

The event’s creator, Jim Cowan, deserves better than that. The British public deserve better than that.

Or are we to sit idly by, shrugging our shoulders and continuing with our lives while the reputation of this vital sector gets tarnished by the dishonesty of a few? 

Those responsible need to act now. For once the confidence of the British public is lost, once the general view becomes one of ‘if one is at it, they’re all at it’ then the battle is lost.

There are too many good, moral, important charities run with integrity by decent people to allow that to happen. But looking the other way won’t solve the issue for any of them.

In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.

IN THE RACE FOR TRUTH, WHO DO YOU BELIEVE?

It has been said that the truth is consistent. It has no need to keep changing its story because it has no need to. It is the truth.

By contrast, lies often change over time. Details are difficult to recall when they are made up and variations to a story, and details therein, expose it for the fiction it is.

In the Race for Truth, it is Jim Cowan versus Cancer Research UK. Who do you believe is speaking the truth about the creation of the Race for Life?

Jim Cowan.

Created the Race for Life in 1993 following his own father’s cancer diagnosis.

Launched the Race for Life in 1994 in Battersea Park in London.

Had the Race for Life stolen by Cancer Research UK employee Jill MacRae (nee Baker) in the winter of 1994/95.

His story has never wavered. His facts have never changed. His position is supported by documentary evidence and by witnesses.

Cancer Research UK.

In 1993, the Event Manager at Imperial Cancer Research UK (CRUK’s former name), Jill Macrae (nee Baker), wrote to Jim saying she was looking forward to meeting him to discuss his proposal.

In 1994, Jill MacRae confirmed in writing on Imperial Cancer Research Fund letterhead about the Race for Life; “Mr Cowan came to us with the original idea.”

In at Athletics Weekly article in 2000, Cancer Research UK’s Louise Holland claimed of the Race for Life, “the concept came from a series of run and walk events in the USA.”

In the same 2000 issue of Athletics Weekly an unnamed CRUK spokesperson claimed the Race for Life, “originated from Walk for a Cure.”

In the Glasgow Herald in September 2000 an unnamed CRUK spokesperson changed the story again to claim it; “originated from Race for the Cure.”

An OnRec article in March 2005 reported that Louise Holland had been awarded Motivator of the Year. She now claimed to have, “led and taken forward the Race for Life since it started in 1984.” (Note: It didn’t actually launch until 1994).

In 2008, Nottingham Trent University graduate Louise Holland was awarded with that university’s Alumnus of the Year Award although, strangely, she was now claiming to have taken over the running of the event in 1995.

In November 2013 Jill MacRae contacted Jim Cowan via letter and social media claiming she had never heard of him and that she was the originator of the Race for Life. Later that month she contacted him again repeating her (false) claim.

Also in November 2013 MacRae edited the Race for Life page on Wikipedia claiming the event was created by her and Jane Arnell (a colleague at Imperial Cancer Research Fund at the time).

In December 2013 Jim Cowan responded robustly to MacRae’s correspondence. He never heard from her again and her false claim was removed from her social media profiles.

Also in December 2013, Jim Cowan provided evidence to Wikipedia that he had created the Race for Life. The page was amended accordingly with a link to the evidence (a 1994 letter from Jill MacRae).

In 2016 an undated interview with Jill MacRae was uncovered in Informed Edinburgh. When asked, “can you tell us a random fact about yourself?” her reply was, “I created the Race for Life and organised the very first event way back in 1993.” (Note: It was not launched until 1994. You would expect the person who created the event to know that).

In the same interview with Informed Edinburgh, MacRae was asked, “describe yourself in three words,” to which she replied, “creative, inquisitive, determined.” She has certainly demonstrated her creativity with her false Race for Life claims.

In 2017, Cancer Research UK officially stopped citing any origin or creator for the Race for Life, instead adopted a stance of, “not publicly crediting anyone.” (Note: “publicly”).

Despite this, in 2018, CRUK National Events Manager, Annette Quarry, cited yet another origin for the Race for Life, this time “the original pilot was from the American Cancer Society.”

In 2019, CRUK overruled Quarry stating (again) they “do not credit anyone.”

In 2020, following an ‘internal inquiry’ CRUK’s Simon Ledsham claimed to have, “exhausted all reasonable lines of enquiry” and to have been, “unable to find any solid evidence which supports Jim Cowan’s claim to be the sole originator of Race for Life.” An inquiry which actually ignored solid evidence and did not talk to witnesses. An inquiry which CRUK refuse to open to public scrutiny. We can only wonder as to why that might be?

Jim Cowan.

Since 1993 has stuck to a single story, one supported by documents, by witnesses, by facts.

Cancer Research UK.

Ever changing stories, ignoring clearly false claims by former and current employees, hiding behind an ‘acknowledge no one’ line, providing no evidence, no witnesses, and refusing to allow public examination of their so-called inquiry.

In the Race for Truth, it is Jim Cowan versus Cancer Research UK. We know who we believe. What about you?

In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.

EVENT EXAMINING HOW TO RESTORE TRUST IN CHARITIES WILL HAVE NO EXTERNAL INPUT

The officially backed ‘Inside Government’ organisation are to host an event in July to examine how charities can start regaining public trust.

It appears that it is not only Cancer Research UK that the public are losing trust in, the need for the event suggesting sector wide issues.

The event, ‘Raising Levels of Trust Across the Voluntary Sector’ was tweeted by Inside Government and retweeted by (among others) the Fundraising Regulator Gerald Oppenheim, suggesting he too is aware of issues within the sector he regulates.

Unfortunately, every single speaker at the event is an ‘insider’ being from either a charity or an official body. Further, the event seems priced to deter those with an interest or a view to share from attending; the cheapest fee for booking a place being £325 (yes, you read that right).

Concerned that the event might miss valuable insights and information from someone affected by the decline in integrity and morals in the sector, someone who has been lied about and seen those leading a charity display mind-boggling levels of hypocrisy, we shared the details with Race for Life creator Jim Cowan.

Jim informs us that he got in touch with the organisers through their online enquiry form and offered to speak of his experiences at the event free of charge. The response? Silence. Jim’s offer was not considered worthy of acknowledgement, let alone a response.

Might we suggest that if levels of trust across the sector are to be improved, ignoring genuine offers to provide input and support is not a great way to start? Further, by excluding the very external knowledge the event agenda is lacking, the event appears to be little more than lip service to a problem which is only going to get worse if not addressed properly.

On the positive side; at least staging the event means that the issue is being recognised.

Find out more details about the event on the Inside Government website here: www.insidegovernment.co.uk/raising-levels-of-trust-across-the-voluntary-sector/