Our response to the Daily Telegraph story on charity expenditure

12 December 2015        

Category: About BHF

Two researchers working in a laboratory

A newspaper article today criticises a number of major UK charities, including us, for the proportion of income spent on charitable activities. We believe this gives a distorted view of how we spend our income to help heart patients.

We spend nearly 80 per cent of our income on research and initiatives to help improve UK heart health. We are the UK's biggest independent funder of cardiovascular research - funding over half of all cardiovascular research at universities across the country. This is only possible because of the generosity of the UK public.

Read our blog which explains how we spend your donations.

Setting the record straight

In response to the story our Chief Financial Officer, Martin Miles, said: 

"This report gives a distorted view of the proportion of our income that we spend on charitable activities, as it doesn’t allow for the very different financial profile of running the UK’s largest network of charity shops.

"Of the £147.3 million raised by the British Heart Foundation in 2014/15, around 78 per cent (£114.6 million) was available to fund life saving research and to improve the lives of heart patients. This was entirely due to the efforts of our supporters, as we receive no government funding for our research."

How has the paper got it wrong?

Martin Miles explains further:

"Our total income of £147.3 million includes the £29.3 million net profit from our retail stores. We present our financial performance in this way, as we believe it gives a fairer reflection of the effectiveness of our supporters’ donations and the way the charity is governed.

"Our 735 charity shops are run to transform the 60,000 tonnes of stock our supporters donate each year into cash. As with any other retail business of this scale, there are significant costs to run the shops, without which we wouldn’t generate nearly £30 million for our research. These include rent, staff costs and the collection of donated stock. However, our success also depends on the extraordinary support of our 23,000 volunteers. In addition to raising this significant sum for research, our shops are a valuable way of promoting all aspects of the British Heart Foundation in local communities."

Your support saves lives

"We are committed to spending every penny that is donated in a way that will offer the greatest benefit to heart patients and over the last 50 years people’s donations have funded research that has helped to halve death rates for cardiovascular disease in the UK."

Around 80 per cent of our charitable spend goes towards funding life saving and life changing research happening at universities and hospitals across the country. Our research has helped to improve diagnosis and treatment of heart attacks, radically improved the survival of babies born with heart defects and helped prevent young people dying suddenly from an inherited heart condition they might not otherwise know they had.

Find out more about the research we're funding to fight for every heartbeat.