Fusion question charity law

Fusion are attempting to donate profits from the show to charity. Photo: Fusion

Fusion are attempting to donate profits from the show to charity. Photo: Fusion

The society Fusion has been told they will be unable to give the proceeds from the ticket sales of this year’s event to charity.

This is in accordance with the Ultra Vires restrictions which governs all charitable organisations, including societies such as Fusion, restricting their fundraising to RAG only. This means they cannot donate the profits from their ticket sales.

However, the society is currently approaching the legal department hoping to find a way around the problem.

Fiona Lavelle, Fusion President, expressed her disappointment at YUSU’s actions, stating: “I’m not sure if they are merely being overcautious, but as our Student Union they should be there to help, and not simply to tell us we cannot do something.”

Fusion is one of the largest societies on campus, now in its seventh year, celebrating student diversity and talent in the form of an annual show. Over the years Fusion has acquired a reputation for both its high quality performances and substantial contributions to charity.

“We will continue to strive to look for ways to overcome this problem without breaking the law”
Janey Stephenson
Creative Director of Fusion

Janey Stephenson, Creative Director of Fusion, stated her frustration at the current situation, but stressed they were still looking at ways to make the donation happen.

“The reason I became involved with Fusion in the first place was because it has such a unique potential to raise thousands of pounds for charity and really make a difference to people’s lives.

“Although it’s extremely frustrating that this confusing bureaucracy is trying to prevent us from doing something which seems to us so simple, just giving money to charity, we’re not defeated just yet.

“We will continue to strive to look for ways to overcome this problem without breaking the law.”

In previous years Fusion have had similar problems with the Ultra Vires Act but are adamant they want to stand by RAG and donate money to charity through their event.

YUSU President Tim Ngwena, who was also Fusion President in 2009, stated: “” I understood, and was overwhelmed by the desire for students to get involved with an event like Fusion. However since 2009, the restrictions on Student Unions from the Charities Commission has made it important for YUSU to comply with Ultra Vires restrictions. No ratified society, including Fusion is an exception to the rule.”

He added that way around the charity law would be for Fusion to de-ratify as a society and become recognised as a RAG fundraising activity, though this has proved an unpopular idea within the society.

Lavelle has indicated that this year, Fusion has the potential to raise over £20,000 from the three shows, this March.

Ideas such as halving the ticket price, and instead asking people to donate once inside, thus enabling the money to go to charity, have also been suggested as a way around the charity law.

11 comments

  1. It is such a disgraceful shame that Fusion should even have to consider becoming a part of RAG. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it is wrong. Basically, YUSU don’t want to pay taxes… so now everyone has to suffer. Weldone YUSU, another buerocratic victory of Soviet proportions for you!!! If Fusion become a part of RAG they will be subject to all the internal bueocracy from within RAG, and will loose their individualality, and DEFINATELY loose their ‘cool’ factor.

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  2. Just to clarify a few points in this article.

    For a start, there is no such thing as an Ultra Vires act. Ultra Vires is a legal term, meaning “beyond the powers”. Due to the Charities Act of 2006 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/50/contents), Charities cannot use funds on things which are not for their “charitable purpose”.

    YUSU, in the same way as Students Unions across the country, is registered as an unincorporated charity. YUSU’s charitable purpose is to represent and provide development opportunities to its members. This means they can’t donate funds or resources to other charities. Societies and Clubs who get funding from YUSU can’t then transfer this, directly or indirectly to other charities. In the eyes of the law it would be the equivalent of giving £50 to the NSPCC who then give the money to Cancer Research. This is not YUSU Bureaucracy, its adherance to the laws and the decisions made by the Trustee Board under guidance from expert charity lawyers employed by the NUS.

    Everyone wants to help raise money for charity, and staff, trustees and officers of YUSU are no different. But donating money from ticket sales for an event resourced by charitable money is simply not an option.We’re happy to offer any level of support to Fusion in terms of helping RAG raise money more creatively at the event. Fusion can charge a reduced ticket price and encourage people to donate to RAG on entry, or sell programmes, videos etc on behalf of RAG.

    Discussions are ongoing as to how Fusion can develop in the future between the Fusion executive, senior YUSU staff members and myself. I hope the above has cleared up a few things and the factual inaccuracies put forward by ‘yorkstudent’ and others can be cleared up.

    Any further questions drop myself ([email protected]) as Activities Officer, or Tim ([email protected]) as chair of the trustee board an email for further clarification.

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  3. As someone who’s come up against these rules before (we fought it for a year in order to be able to raise money for Children in Need), I’d say Fusion need to talk to the Charities Commission direct.

    They just so happen to be based in my home town and, when I spoke to them, they were not aware of half of the blockades YUSU were mentioning, and helped me sort out YSTV being able to raise money. Good Luck!

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  4. That’s not actually true though is it Steve?

    Your event was wholly different, with a suggested donation rather than ticket sales – something which we’re actively encouraging Fusion to do.

    Also I’m unsure how the Charities Commission helped “sort out YSTV being able to raise money”. The conversations took place between yourself, RAG Officers and I and were sorted entirely internally.

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  5. Calm it down lads, it’s all for charity. The kids want our money, but not like this. BLOBBYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!

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  6. There were lots of conversations before you became student activities officer Nick.

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  7. @Nick. I’ve been reading through your blogs. Can you tell me exactly, what, if anything you’ve done that’s significant this year? YSTV Girl xxx

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  8. ah classic ad hominem attack from YSTV Girl there. Nice to see Miss Pickles maintaining her high standards

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  9. If Fusion love RAG so much, and want to raise as much money as possible then why weren’t Fiona and Janey at any of the RAG events this week?

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  10. I thought Nouse had a policy of not ‘outing’ anonymous commenters?

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  11. 14 Feb ’11 at 10:20 am

    Reality Check

    Surely the issue Fusion should be dealing with, is to justify why they want to raise money for charities other than those elected by cross campus ballot?

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