Charity rips off donors


Not one dollar donated by Nelsonians to a man collecting for bowel cancer research is expected to make its way to the intended cause, but to an alleged Australian charity scam instead.

The Cancer Research Charitable Trust is currently collecting in Nelson, its financial records show it raised a little over $111,000 for the year ending 2011 and spent it all on wages and expenses with not one dollar being donated to a single charity.

The trust is registered with the Charities Commission but an 0800 number on its invoices does not exist, nor does its website. The listed officer of the charity, Troy Manhire, has been the target of police investigations inAustraliaand is currently under investigation by the Department of Internal Affairs here.

Door-knockers for the trust earn up to 40 per cent of the money they collect, a practice deemed to be “unprofessional” by the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand. “No professional fundraising institute in the world condones relating fundraising fees to the amount raised,” says FINZ CEO James Austin.

In 2009 Mr Manhire was investigated for fraud inSouth Australiaafter he pocketed a salary topping $500,000. The licence of his Cancer and Bowel Research Association – and the four trusts it worked with in that state – was stripped and only reinstated two years later and under the strict condition that Mr Manhire was not involved in its management “in any way”, according to a statement by the Office of the Liquor and Gambling Commissioner in South Australia.

Mr Manhire was the CEO and chairman of that association but now bases his operation from the Gold Coast and is still allowed to operate in other Australian states andNew Zealand.

The other officer for hisNew Zealandtrust is a company owned by Mr Manhire’s wife.

The Cancer Research Charitable Trust is still advertising for collectors in theAucklandarea and its coordinator, Neil Armstrong, says collectors earn 25 per cent of what they raise if it’s under $500 for the week but they can earn 40 per cent of all the money they collect, if donations for the week are more than $1200.

Karen Ward, the general manager for the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association, says the trust is not registered with it and their tactics break fundraising regulations and are “disturbing”.

“Never should a door-to-door collector ask for cash for one, they should also wear branded clothing and a name badge.”

The man currently operating in Nelson told the Nelson Weekly he’s based inAustralia but flies to the South Island each year and collects in its major centres, as well asWellington. He says all the money that is leftover after “expenses” is given toNew Zealand charities.

A further look at its financial records, listed on the Charity Commission website, shows its last donation to any charity was for $20,472 in the year ending 2010. That year the trust collected $239,055 from Kiwis.

The year before it raised $343,599 and didn’t make one donation, meaning that in its last three annual financial statements the trust collected a total of $694,449 and only donated $20,472, according to those figures.

Nelson fundraising expert and member of FINZ, Judene Edgar says that the charitable sector is open to rort as it is relying on the good nature and generosity of people.  “What this sort of shameful scam does is make people distrust reputable charities and genuine people and worthwhile causes can miss out as a consequence. If you are at all suspicious or have not heard of a charity before, don’t donate,” she warns.