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The damage Hannah Ingram-Moore has done…

Updated: Jan 29

You must have been living under a rock not to have seen the various news headlines around this lady recently.

In case you can’t connect the name, Hannah Ingram-Moore is the limelight-loving daughter of Sir Captain Tom Moore, the elderly veteran who walked 100 laps of his garden early in the pandemic to raise a bit of cash for NHS charities.

Ms Ingram-Moore has already been the subject of one of my blogs. She was refused a very hefty salary as CEO of the foundation created in her father’s name; other decisions made by the Captain’s family and the Foundation’s board have also warranted intervention from the sector’s regulator before now.

Ultimately, her management of the Sir Captain Tom Moore Foundation has negatively impacted the public's trust in the third sector overall.

In the early days of the pandemic, Captain Tom Moore, as he was then known, a British war veteran, captured the hearts of millions worldwide by raising a staggering amount of money for the National Health Service (NHS) during the pandemic. Following his remarkable achievement, his daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, founded the Sir Captain Tom Foundation to continue his charitable work.

Controversies initially revolved around the handling of those donations and accusations that the Ingram-Moore family enjoyed personal gain. Critics raised concerns about the transparency of the charity's financial operations, the influence of family members in decision-making, and potential conflicts of interest. These allegations subsequently cast a shadow over Sir Captain Tom Moore's legacy and, more broadly, raised questions about the integrity and accountability of charitable organisations as a whole.

The latest fallout, concerning the building of an office for the Foundation, shone the spotlight onto the dealings of the Ingram-Moores, which revealed further dodgy dealings. Recently, planning permission was granted for the building of an office on the Ingram-Moores’ land, for the Foundation to house Sir Captain Tom Moore’s memorabilia and certificates. What wasn’t granted, however, was the permission to build a spa complex, pool and changing rooms, which were subsequently tacked on—the family may yet have to tear this down. Investigations into the Ingram-Moores’ business dealings have now flagged up potential issues around the trademarking of the ‘Captain Tom’ moniker. The family has sold naming rights to a number of commercial outfits and made significant money from doing so, apparently without the Foundation’s knowledge or permission.

What’s even more galling is that Hannah has begun touting herself out as a business consultant. For £3,500 a session, you too could learn how to ignore official rules and planning laws and unethically make money from a family member’s altruism.

From comments I’ve seen online over the last few days, the Captain Tom controversy has damaged the public's perception of the entire third sector. Memes saying ‘He walked so that she could swim’ have been splashed across social media. Had the backlash remained contained to the dealings of the Sir Captain Tom Moore Foundation, this may be warranted, but in such circumstances, the public anger spreads to all charities, with a particular focus on the salaries of CEOs of other large charities who haven’t done anything wrong.

Such controversies have the potential to undermine the generous nature of individuals who donate to charitable causes. The public typically become more skeptical about where their donations are going, leading to a decline in overall contributions.

So, how can charities rebuild public trust?

Enhanced transparency

Charities should prioritise transparency in their operations, particularly regarding their financial management. Publishing annual reports, detailing the allocation of funds, and regularly updating donors and the public on the impact of their contributions can help to strengthen trust.

Independent governance

Establishing independent regulatory and governance structures, including non-family board members or external advisors, can mitigate concerns regarding conflicts of interest. This ensures decision-making processes are fair and unbiased.

Robust ethical guidelines

Charities should adopt and enforce clear ethical guidelines that govern the behaviour of staff, board members, and volunteers. This helps to ensure that personal gain or misuse of resources is strictly prohibited and actively discouraged.

Increased collaboration

Charities can strengthen their reputation by collaborating with reputable partners and engaging in joint initiatives. Such partnerships help demonstrate a commitment to shared values and reinforce an organisation's credibility.

Transparency in donor engagement

Open and consistent communication with donors is essential. Charities should maintain a two-way dialogue, providing updates on projects, demonstrating impact, and actively seeking feedback to address concerns and build lasting relationships.

Learning from controversies

The third sector should analyse and learn from controversies like the Captain Tom Foundation incidents. Identifying shortcomings, implementing corrective measures, and openly addressing the issues can serve as an example of the sector's commitment to improvement.

It seems unfair that hardworking, honest people working for effective and crucial causes should be negatively impacted by the greed of others. Lumping everyone in together is perhaps human nature—after all, it happens frequently in government, when a party member is caught out doing something wrong.

Unfortunately, in the third sector’s case, the fallout results in fewer donations from the public whose trust has been eroded. The fallout from that is reduced services and support for those in real need.


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