LETTER TO DONORS & BESPOKE FUND HOLDERS.
As you will be aware, the Skiers Trust of Great Britain has been working since 1966 as a Charitable Trust to provide financial support to aspiring British skiers and snowboarders.
Since 1966 much has changed in the world of British charities with many new regulations coming into force – a considerable number of which applied to the operation of the Skiers Trust.
A review of the Trust’s activities in late 2014 identified a number of areas where, in the opinion of the trustees, there were questions about the compliance of the Trust with both the Charity Commission and HMRC’s requirements. Having identified these potential problems, the Trust sought legal advice and together they set out to resolve the potential problem areas. It was only in late June 2015, that the Trust received counsel’s opinion and have just recently receive a formal ruling from HMRC.
This has meant that over many months, on strictly observed legal advice, the Trust has frozen it’s charitable activities – and I must mention here the tremendous patience and support from donors, applicants and beneficiaries alike that has been in evidence throughout this very difficult and protracted period. For that patience and understanding the trustees are most grateful.
As a result of the formal opinion received from counsel the bespoke fund system will be closed down with immediate effect. It will however be replaced by a new system which will enable the Trust to continue to provide financial support to British skiers and snowboarders.
In essence the system will provide for the establishment of a ‘pool’ of the best British skiers and snowboarders; then all past and future donors/sponsors will have to sign the new gift aid form which will replace the original form. Donors who make financial contributions to the Trust will have their donation matched by the Trust, to the individuals in the pool. The Trust will of course continue to provide separate grants to groups as long as the individuals who are part of the group meet the eligibility criteria.
The question of the closure of the Bespoke Fund system and the impact this will have on you and the donations you previously made are clearly at the forefront of your mind. We must now work within the very strict rules of both the Charity Commission and HMRC. Matching donations to members of the pool will be solely at the discretion of the Trust and has to conform to the the criteria set down in the Grant Award Scheme. Sponsors may request to be ‘matched’ with the appropriate donor-to-beneficiary but have to rely on the discretion of the Trust but no absolute guarantee can be given.
On the matter of recovery of funds held in bespoke accounts, it has been made very clear to the Trustees by the legal advisors that donations made to the Skiers Trust have to be given free of conditions and importantly are not recoverable by the donor under any circumstances. I must therefore ask that your next action is not to seek to recover those funds previously held in a Bespoke Fund – for as a charity all donations become the property of the Trust once received. The positive side is as mentioned above, every effort will be made to match your existing donation with a grant applicant – once of course he/she is nominated and then accepted into the ‘pool’.
The Trustees are acutely aware of the need to rebuild the confidence of the skiing community and are all set to undertake this task as the first and foremost able bodied skiing and snow boarding charity!
Finally, I thank you again for your patience and continued support. The final ruling from HMRC closes this matter completely and the new system will take its place with immediate effect and we would like to assure you that we will continue to provide financial support to aspiring British skiers and snow boarders.