The Sun Newspaper - December 2015
A whistleblower contacted us to raise awareness with the public of how little of the money given to St John Ambulance through a fundraiser organisation ended up with the charity.
We were shown evidence of how for the first two years for every pound raised through Wesser International, which doorsteps households, only 45 pence went to St John Ambulance.
We passed on this information to The Sun newspaper which made further investigations and then ran the story on its front page.
Read the full story here:
FUNDRAISERS from a firm that gets doorstep donations for St John Ambulance were allegedly told to target elderly people living alone — because they are easy to sign up.
A whistleblower also revealed 45p of every £1 donated went to fundraising firm Wesser International.
The cash helps boss Martin Wesser, 44, to live a luxurious lifestyle. He and his wife have a £1million penthouse in Madrid, which includes a maid’s room.-- ADVERTISEMENT --And photos show him posing with bottles of champagne while on foreign trips.[High life . . . Wesser parties and enjoys trips to foreign countries with his wife]
High life . . . Wesser parties and enjoys trips to foreign countries with his wifeWesser International’s official line is that elderly or vulnerable people should not be targeted.
But the whistleblower said there was a very different message at his training session.
The ex-worker added: “The trainer contradicted everything in that shortly after reading it out.
“He said, ‘People who live on their own and are old are easier to get to sign up.’ He told us we could have a laugh or a joke with them and it would be easier to get donations from them.” Wesser pockets 45 per cent of the cash it collects for the charity for the first two years of a donor’s contributions. It takes a further ten per cent of any third-year cash.
But the ex-worker said: “We were never told to tell the people where their money was going.”
Wesser describes itself as a “fundraising pioneer” that benefits charities to the tune of £250million a year. In Britain it has raised £20million for St John Ambulance since 1997, signing up “in excess of 250,000 supporters.”
Wesser, based in Letchworth, Herts, hires around 600 UK fundraisers a year, paying between £400 and £600 a week plus extra commission of up to £900.
St John Ambulance has stopped working with Wesser following The Sun’s investigation — and launched its own inquiry. It said: “St John Ambulance condemns any targeting of elderly and vulnerable people. We are deeply concerned by the allegations.
“As such we have suspended all activity with Wesser.”
Wesser said: “We pride ourselves in being an honest and ethical company.” It said a statement given to donors says St John Ambulance pays Wesser a fee.
The firm said its trainers knew targeting the elderly was “completely inappropriate”. It added: “We will be taking action to ensure this activity is eradicated but can assure you it is not in our policies or training manuals.”
ST John Ambulance is a volunteer-led charity that teaches and carries out first aid across the UK.
Every year it trains more than 400,000 people how to save lives in communities and work with the NHS in response to 999 calls.
The charity provides first aid cover at many events, including festivals and the London Marathon.
It also offers ambulance services across England.