Paul Bradshaw Profile picture
Award-winning data journalist; MA Data Journalism + MA Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism https://t.co/pHkEYPmJX0 Books: https://t.co/iGt0nhhsMz

Nov 26, 2021, 18 tweets

🧵It's time for another journey into the world of telling stories through company accounts - this time Naomi Campbell's fashion charity is under investigation!
The story is here: theguardian.com/society/2021/n… But how did the reporter find the details..?

2/ First up: the story *lead* doesn't come from company accounts, it comes from a press release: gov.uk/government/new… — you can get email alerts about announcements from the Charity Commission here: gov.uk/government/lat… ...

3/ ...But a reporter could have found some good story leads on the supermodel's charity much earlier if they'd been looking, as the details of the story show...

4/ You can search for a charity's accounts on the Charity Commission register - here's a search for Fashion For Relief …of-charities.charitycommission.gov.uk/charity-search… - and here's the charity's page …of-charities.charitycommission.gov.uk/charity-search…...

5/ The latest accounts are overdue by 179 days - late accounts are a good reason to check out earlier ones to see why that might be happening, and to make some calls to see if there are any concerns/activity etc. which might be newsworthy (but not defamatory)

6/ You can sign up for alerts on the Companies House website for new documents from companies - but annoyingly not on the Charity Commission. So try a tool like Visualping to provide email updates on when a webpage has changed (including late notices).

7/ In this case, the reporter hasn't spotted what's happening - the Charity Commission has - and now they need to scramble to find some background to flesh out a very vague press release.
Some is basic context about what the charity has been doing lately, from news reports...

8/ ...but then we get to the more interesting detail from the accounts. It spent less than 1% of its income on "good causes". How does the reporter know this..? (Clue: it's not in the press release)

9/ ...Well, the Charity Commission does very usefully provide a breakdown of how much each charity spends on "charitable activities" on the charity overview page …of-charities.charitycommission.gov.uk/charity-search… — but it's not that...

10/ For the detail we need to head over to the 'Accounts and annual returns' page …of-charities.charitycommission.gov.uk/charity-search… and download the most recent accounts available.

11/ Income and spending are normally the first set of numbers, here on p6: we can see that £1.6m was spent on "raising funds" but just £5,515 of the funds raised were spent on "charitable activities" - down from over £300k the previous year. Can we find more details?

12/ The clue is in the 'Notes' column: this points to extra detail in the 'notes to the accounts' section that comes next.
Note 6, then, on p11, gives more detail on those hefty fundraising costs - £1.5m of them were on "event charges"

13/ What about the next paragraph in the story which describes payments to a trustee..? theguardian.com/society/2021/n…

14/ ...Well, "remuneration" is always a good place to look - also in the notes to the accounts - and that's where it comes from.
(Related party transactions, at the end of the accounts, is also a good place to check)

15/ The reporter could have added further background by searching for the trustees/directors names on Companies House to add information about other companies they're involved in …te.company-information.service.gov.uk/search/officer…

16/ So, a vague press release turned into a much more concrete and meaty story by simply using some basic techniques for finding information in company accounts. And a great way to make reporting stand out from all the other stories

17/ ...But it's also a good example of why it's a good idea to check accounts for potential leads. Back in May that's what the Mail on Sunday did — and it may be that it was their reporting that led the Charity Commission to investigate in the first place dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9…

18/ Thanks to @petewhite for pointing out that the Charity Commission interest in the charity pre-dates the Mail on Sunday article in May - with a compliance case in Sept 2020 mentioned in the press release gov.uk/government/new…

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