The Charity Commission has published the result of its inquiry into the charity Kenya Community Support Network and it highlights again the danger of "founder syndrome". It is clear from the inquiry findings that the founder had treated the charity as a private business, withdrawing cash as if it were his own and with minimal regard by the trustees to their legal duties.
The inquiry report shows that the trustees were, on the whole, simply doing what the founder wanted or allowing him to do what he wanted. Also, whilst the trustees thought that money was being spent in furtherance of the charity's objects, they had no way to assess this and did not keep any records to demonstrate the benefits that resulted from work undertaken by the charity.
The result of the inquiry was that the founder was disqualified from acting as a charity trustee for 8 years and the charity has been dissolved.
It is a timely reminder that, despite the enthusiasm of a charity's founder, how long other trustees have been friends with him/her, the fact that the founder may have initially financed the charity personally etc., a charity exists for the benefit of its beneficiaries and trustees are under a duty to ensure that its funds are spent in the most effective way possible to achieve its objects and that they have the evidence to support that.
If you are a charity trustee and, at trustees' meetings you are encouraged to "not rock the boat", don't question the chair or the founder etc. then you should be hearing a very loud warning bell - time to start those challenging conversations!
The Commission concluded that the wider trustee board’s conduct also amounted to misconduct and/ or mismanagement in the administration of the charity by way of omission and failure to monitor the activities of Mr Ochieng.