So many people would agree with that quote from Princess Di but charity lawyers might not. In fact, they might take a sharp intake of breath and shake their heads. Why? Have a look at the reasons for the Charity Commission's latest inquiry into the Captain Tom Foundation. It has been opened because of concerns over the charity’s lack of independence from the family of the late Captain Sir Tom Moore. 

In response to grief or another life-changing event, families often look to take action to deal with their grief or the injustice they or a family member have suffered. That can sometimes take the form of establishing a new charity. Whilst that might be cathartic it might not always be the best way to start or run a charity effectively. What can so easily happen is that the personal lives, businesses and emotions of the various family members get entangled in the structure and decision making of the charity. The family (often the only trustees) can lose sight of what is in the best interests of the charity versus what is in their or their family's best interest.

Some of the most inspiring charities have grown out of catastrophic events in the lives of their founders but other charities started for those reasons, have commenced with fanfare only to flounder when good intentions do not equate to good leadership and governance. Establishing and running a charity is all about acting in the best interests of the charity's beneficiaries. It is not about acting in the best interests of the founder and their family. Understanding and keeping that distinction can be difficult to achieve, especially when working through grief and trauma.