The Charity Visits Scheme is open to all Members and Apprentices of the Merchant Taylors’ Company. If you would like to be involved, simply e-mail email@example.com saying that you want to join the Scheme. That’s it!
How the Scheme works
The Company has its own charitable grant-making trust called Merchant Taylors’ Consolidated Charities for the Infirm (‘MTCCI’) (regd. no. 214266). MTCCI receives unsolicited applications from other charities to fund their work, typically involving people with health problems, isolated elderly people, or young people from very troubled backgrounds. Every year, MTCCI provides several hundred thousand pounds’ of funding to the best applicants. It’s like the Big Lottery Fund, but on a smaller scale and with the money coming from investments rather than donations by the general public.
MTCCI receives many funding applications per year, more than it can possibly fund. The applications are sifted and a shortlist is drawn up for the MT Charities Committee to consider. This happens about four times a year.
Due Diligence Visits
The MT Charities Officer can do a certain amount of due diligence on the shortlisted applications based on online sources, eg the applicant charity’s most recent annual accounts filed at the Charities Commission. However, there is only so much information one can extract from those sources. It is therefore reasonably common that the MT Charities Committee will decide there are outstanding questions about the background which can only be resolved by visiting the charity and having a frank conversation with its senior management.
The MT Charities Officer is tasked with conducting the visits, or sometimes a member of the Charities Committee comes with/instead of him. However, their time is already stretched very thin, and with an appropriate briefing on what to cover many visits could be carried out by a Company Member or Apprentice who belongs to the Charity Visits Scheme. It is also a great way for that person to get a first-hand insight into the tremendous impact which MTCCI’s grant-funding has. In relatively straightforward cases the Member or Apprentice would be welcome to go on their own, but would always have the offer of being accompanied by the MT Charities Officer or a Committee member. In less straightforward cases, they would always be accompanied in this way.
What is the time commitment?
Charity Visits Scheme members are asked to commit to giving a minimum of 6 hours per year to conduct one Due Diligence Visit.
The 6 hours breaks down as follows.
2 hours to read a briefing from the MT Charities Officer to prepare you for the visit. This comprises:
- general guidance about how small charities work, Do’s and Don’ts about how to behave when you are conducting the visit, what you can reasonably expect from the average small charity in terms of professionalism and financial awareness, common symptoms of a well-run or poorly-run charity, and links to helpful online guidance from the Charity Commission
- a specific brief on the charity you are visiting, including what specific issues to raise with them and why the Charities Committee is interested in those particular issues.
You would of course be welcome to call the MT Charities Officer at any time to check any queries about the briefing.
4 hours to conduct the visit, including:
- Travel time to and from the charity (which is likely to be in Inner London)
- Time at the charity
- Writing a very short report of the answers to the specific points which you have been asked to investigate, using a template provided in your briefing. This report will be considered by the Charities Committee to help them make their decision.