Glorious sunny day, Buckingham Palace backdrop and 105 Capgemini competitors on bikes raising money for The Prince’s Trust ….. what a great way to spend a Sunday!

We had a fantastic day on Sunday 14th October taking part in the annual Palace to Palace cycling event, now in its 7th year.  Our first year taking part, I wasn’t sure what to expect and how many of our people might be interested – but I was inundated with keen cyclists and we ended up being one of the biggest teams alongside Accenture and HP.


This event, like many other fundraisers is an opportunity for The Prince’s Trust to raise awareness, raise money for its target client group, young people, and to build relationships with existing and potential supporters. 

I am a keen supporter of fundraising activities and have been running my own events for many years.  However, a casual comment from a participant on the day got me thinking ….. they asked ‘so will the £85 I raised really make a difference to a young life?’

With the 3rd sector growing and less government funding available, there is growing pressure on these sorts of fundraising events – personally, I am invited to a charity fundraiser at least twice a week. 

So, how do we know that the cash we decide to give goes where it is needed most and not to pay inflated salaries, promote personal gain agendas or worst of all, be diverted fraudulently?

Front of mind was the recent charity scandal reported by The New York Times, of hip hop artist Wyclef Jean who started a charity called Yele to help his struggling homeland of Haiti.  However, eight years later, the group has closed shop amid allegations of fraud, mounting debt and mishandling funds totaling $16million.

According to the New York Times, donations came pouring in after the devastating 2010 earthquake and Jean is said to have raised $1million in 24 hours after issuing a plea for help on Twitter. But rather than using the money to help the millions of displaced residents, the Times reported that Yele funnelled a large portion of the funds to pay for  ‘offices, salaries, consultants’ fees and travel’ to say nothing of Jean’s family, friends and legal team.

In one case, the group allegedly shelled out $30,763 to fly Hollywood starlet Lindsay Lohan from New Jersey to a charity event in Chicago that raised $66,000.

So, who is minding the shop? There are so many ways nowadays to give, how do we decide where to allocate our hard earned cash to make the most impact to those who need it most?

I was recently approached by a ‘chugger’ or ‘charity mugger’ on a busy street in Glasgow.  In fact, as I walked the length of the street I was approached by a total of 4 who had positioned themselves strategically. 

This way of giving has always intrigued me; how much of my money actually goes to the charity? Why are these ‘chuggers’ so persistent and what’s in it for them?

This suffocating behaviour has been tackled by a recent Government Report  that has recommended charities clamp down and could face a fine of up to £1,000 if their street fundraisers breach rules designed to protect members of the public.

It seems to me that a real difference is never going to be made by these street tactics and that true change comes from society understanding the issues and being part of a movement of change. 

As for The Prince’s Trust Palace to Palace Bike Ride, we have raised over £10,000 so far and are continuing to be part of the solution with our army of volunteers working directly with young people – ours is a partnership that we hope does make a difference.