The Charity Employees Benevolent Fund is to close through lack of income. Its Advisory Council will wind down its operations and close the charity when all current financial obligations have been met.
The Fund was established in 2003 to provide for current and former charity sector staff who were facing financial need. It is similar to benevolent funds established in many other industries, where employees and employers contribute towards the safety net. It clearly meets a need: the Fund has seen applications increase rapidly during the past year, despite little marketing. It is now receiving over 50 applications a quarter.
In announcing the Fund's planned closure the Trustees of the Fund expressed their dismay that "with some notable exceptions, charities have not yet acknowledged the need for a benevolent fund of last resort for the estimated 650,000 people they employ".
They note that, ironically, "CEBF’s beneficiaries include past and present employees of several large charities which have refused to support CEBF on the grounds that they look after their own staff".
It was the Fund's failure "to generate a sufficiently large and regular income stream from the charity sector" that has led to this position.
The Fund's achievements
The Fund's Trustees were proud of what they had acheived. Since the charity became fully operational in November 2009, CEBF has provided practical assistance to more than 250 families across the country and from all age groups and backgrounds.
All applicants have received welfare advice from its voluntary welfare professional, enabling them to obtain the correct state benefits, as well as support in the form of either a direct grant or signposting to another organisation that can help.
Any balance remaining in the Fund after it has been wound down will be distributed to a charity for the relief of poverty.
Charities that did support the Fund included the NSPCC, New Philanthropy Capital and Victim Support. They made regular donations to it based on the size of their workforce.
Search for a new partner
Included in the Trustees' announcement was a final request for any philanthropic organisation that "recognises the need for a charity sector benevolent fund and is sufficiently robust to support CEBF’s work until the Fund is self-financing" to come forward with a view to taking it over as an operating charity.
Expressions of interest were invited before 1 September 2012.
Commenting on the Trustees’ decision, the President of CEBF Sir Stuart Etherington, said: "I think the Trustees have taken a very difficult decision. It is a great pity this resource is no longer available for Charity Employees; I hope that some benefactor will come forward to assist the fund."