Make a BIG difference

Statement by Penny Appeal USA

October 18, 2023

Asalamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatu,

Peace and Blessings be Upon You.

The past few weeks have filled our hearts and souls with grief, as we’ve found ourselves responding to four separate crisis: the devastating earthquake and flooding in Morocco and Libya, a series of earthquakes in Afghanistan, and the crushing violence against our Palestinian brothers and sisters. Our staff and board have been working around the clock for weeks on end to deploy aid in the most efficient, effective, and rapid ways possible, convening calls with partners in the middle of the night to determine how best to allocate critical funds where most needed, and messaging donors – often hourly – to keep them informed about how we’re using and safeguarding their donations.

Unfortunately, a series of online postings targeting Penny Appeal’s UK office has recently come to our attention, having been shared with us by some of our supporters. This is especially challenging to have to respond and dedicate precious staff time to when our team members are actively focused on the Palestinian crisis, which is evolving by the hour. Typically, we abstain from adding fuel to the fire of social media controversies as a matter of policy: we take the position that weighing into a back-and-forth in such a hyper-public forum only provides the accusations with more unjustified attention, thus serving the accuser. However, given our commitment to transparency and accountability to our donors, in this case we feel a clarifying response is warranted.

Penny Appeal USA is an entirely separate entity from Penny Appeal UK, on both the legal and governance levels: we are separately incorporated legal entities, with independent boards of directors, revenue streams, contracts, governance and compliance divisions, and grant agreements. We’re linked by an affiliation agreement that details use of the Penny Appeal brand and designated areas of operations. We each submit to extremely strict guidelines for operation by our respective governments, and provide annual financial audits through licensed, independent firms.  Putting aside the merits of any accusations, any financial or governance issues involving Penny Appeal UK exist separately and independently from Penny Appeal USA.

While we have no way of commenting on the internal operations of a separate organization in another country, in this case the Charities Commission in the UK, the official government body responsible for charity oversight there, has already conducted a full investigation of Penny Appeal UK based on these specific allegations, which recently concluded with the issue of a public report (the specific ruling can be found here).  They documented three specific issues: failure to retain sufficient minutes in board discussion of purchasing a property, failure to adequately review an existing contract with a supplier, and allowing for a perceived conflict of interest.  While these taken together represent governance issues that the UK office is required and has pledged to correct for, the governmental inquiry does not indicate any level of financial fraud, malfeasance, or misuse of donor funds such as is being circulated online.

As an organization deeply committed to transparency, Penny Appeal USA publicly provides sector-leading documentation of all our annual reports, audited financial statements, and IRS 990 forms here.

Our Overhead and Zakat Policies are also available on our website.  We hold a Platinum Seal of Transparency rating from Guidestar, are accredited by the Better Business Bureau, are Top-Rated through GreatNonprofits, and are members of Interaction and the Alliance to End Hunger.

  We hope that this clarification allows our community to move on from this social media chatter and focus on the terrible plight of the people of Palestine, who urgently need all of our attention, support, voices, and prayers.

In Sincerity,

John Robbins, Ph.D.
CEO, Penny Appeal USA