A registered cancer charity has donated less than five per
cent of the $1.1 million it has collected from New Zealanders
over four years.
The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has launched a
review of the Cancer Research Charitable Trust, which pays
its staff a commission of up to 40 per cent to collect funds
and hand out information door-to-door.
The trust's financial records show it has donated $48,563.25
towards cancer research between July 2007 and June 2011 -
only 4.2 per cent of the $1.1 million it received in that
According to the DIA's charities register website the rest of
the funds went towards wages and administrative costs, with
no funds at all going towards cancer research in two of the
four years for which records are available.
Fundraising Institute chief executive James Austin said he
was strongly opposed to any charity paying its collectors a
commission, and he believed the trust's figures were
"On those figures, I would be deeply concerned over the way
it's been processed and their expenses. I think it requires
The charity's listed officer, Gold Coast lawyer Troy Manhire,
was investigated for fraud in South Australia in 2009 after
pocketing a salary of close to A$500,000 from the Cancer and
Bowel Research Association.
No charges were laid but the charity was stripped of its
licence. It was reinstated by the Office of the Liquor and
Gambling Commissioner on the strict condition that Mr Manhire
was not involved in its management "in any way".
Mr Manhire has defended the amount of money the trust granted
to research projects in New Zealand, saying that was just one
of its objectives.
The trust had shifted its focus several years ago towards
awareness and prevention campaigns, he said.
"It's a matter for the organisation, what objectives they
choose to spend the money on. Some years there is more focus
on different areas of objectives."
The trust's records show some $332,000 has gone towards
awareness and prevention campaigns over four years - almost
$285,000 of which went on personnel costs.
The rest went towards advertising and sponsorship
($18,139.91), vehicles and travel ($17,801.37), website
maintenance ($4695.97), the Embarrassment Can Kill programme
($4500) and printing ($1793.98).
Mr Manhire said the awareness campaigns involved door-to-door
collectors handing out information and speaking to people,
which had a "phenomenal reach" of tens of thousands of people
Asked if it was fair to assume from the trust's name that
donations would go towards cancer research, Mr Manhire said:
"I can't control what people might assume."
He would consider changing the trust's name.
"You're suggesting to me that the name is apt to mislead, and
I take that on board ... obviously the last thing that any
organisation wants is that people in the community feel
Mr Manhire said numerous charities paid fundraising staff a
The trust's New Zealand coordinator, Neil Armstrong, said it
had collectors in the South Island, Hamilton and Auckland who
worked around the country.
The South Island collector was based in Australia and came to
New Zealand at his own expense each year.
Mr Armstrong said three staff, including himself, had been
spoken to by police after members of the public raised
questions about whether it was a legitimate charity. Nothing
came of those conversations because the trust was registered
with the Charities Commission, now part of DIA.
He said the trust's administrative costs were "typical of any
It had closed its Symonds St office in Auckland because the
overheads became too high when the recession hit four years
ago. It was now operated from Mr Armstrong's house.
Mr Armstrong said the trust had to rely on paid workers, and
even then it was a struggle to get people who wanted to work.
In the last four years, the trust has donated $20,472 to
Otago University and $28,091.25 to the Malaghan Institute, an
independent medical research centre based at Victoria
University and registered as a charity.
The trust had pledged $60,000 to the Institute, according to
a Victoria University press release at the time.
Public Fundraising Regulatory Association general manager
Karen Ward said the trust was not registered with it, and she
believed their tactics broke fundraising regulations.
- Additional reporting: Andrew Board of Nelson Weekly