Perhaps donate to other causes

It is with some trepidation that I dare to comment on the funding support of perhaps the highest profile, and certainly one of the most supported, charities serving our local area.

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In its last financial year, from its total income of £9.3m, it made a surplus of over £3.5m, and as at the end of March last year had funds of over £12.5m, of which £6m was simply cash in the bank. It also boasts the support of over 900 volunteers, as well as financial support from dozens of local organisations and hundreds of others, including myself, both directly and indirectly.

Although it suffered a near-catastrophic event in mid-2015, it has nevertheless gone on to benefit financially, and hugely, through the generous hearts, minds, purses and wallets of the local community. And quite deservedly so.

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However because of its popularity and success it has tended to suck the lifeblood out of the available ‘pot’ of largesse available within the community, such that many other local charities are suffering from significant reductions in donations and volunteer support.

Many of these charities improve immeasurably the current lives of people experiencing very difficult circumstances, temporary and/or permanent, rather than an end of life experience. Many, such as Demelza, Seaview, RNLI, Macmillan Nurses, I suspect, would welcome donations of £10,000 per year never mind the £10,000 per day that this charity states it requires.

This charity, St Michaels Hospice (charity no 288462). Its audited accounts to 31 March 2016, (recently available on the Charities Commission web site) show an astonishing, and not altogether undeserved, influx of cash in the period of its financial report.

Over the ensuing ten months since then to date, even more cash will have flowed into its coffers. One suspects that the charity is now likely to be awash with cash, presumably sitting in the bank.

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It is therefore surprising to see that it nevertheless paid out £15,682 in bank charges. How many slices of cake and scones were produced, paid for and consumed to pay the charity’s bankers?

How many people sweated and strained painfully around the Hastings Half Marathon last year to support its bankers? And it would appear to have taken on very fancy, modern and presumably expensive new premises for its Donations Department at Queensway South office block (marketed as designed specifically for hi-tech businesses). Surely there must be plenty of much cheaper premises available across the area?

Yes, it suffered a disaster with the arson event but the cost of repairing the damage, estimated apparently at £3m, is covered by £2m from the insurance (of which £1m is for the additional expense of operating its services during the building works) and the Phoenix Appeal which achieved its target of £1m in October last year.

The remaining £1m will come from its cash balances, but is unlikely to be noticed much, given the considerable amount of money, for a local charity, it will now have in its coffers.

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I do not have the temerity to suggest to anyone which charity they should give their time or money to. However as St Michaels Hospice seems financially secure for the reasonable short to medium term at least, perhaps we could consider spreading our largesse a bit wider.

By all means, still give some to St Michaels but also perhaps consider giving the remainder to other well-deserving charities in the area. You may find that they will be even more grateful for your support.

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