Planning your digital ‘legacy’ – new Facebook feature for grieving relations

Planning your digital ‘legacy’ – new Facebook feature for grieving relations

Click here to view original web page at www.freeths.co.uk

has added a new feature enabling users in the US to add a “legacy contact” to their account, namely a trusted person who can gain control of their account and memorialise – or delete it – in the event of their death. The option to proactively plan ahead for care of a account highlights the important issue of what will happen to your digital presence when you die.

The feature, although perhaps a little morbid in nature, gives family and friends the chance to take care of a Facebook account in the event of the account holder’s death by allowing them to post memorials, respond to friend requests and update cover and profile photos.

The ‘legacy contact’ will not be able to log in to the account as this is deemed to be a ‘violation’ of Facebook’s policy to never release login information to anyone other than the account holder even after death. This means that the legacy contact will not have access to private messages.

The new setting comes in response to thousands of requests from people who have experienced loss or are grieving and for those who ‘want a say in what happens to their account after death’.

Under the previous system, which is still in place in the UK, the account is either frozen as a memorial account (not managed by anyone) or deleted in its entirety by Facebook when they receive a valid request from family members (with proof of death in the form of an obituary or other documentation about the death).

Although the “legacy contact” feature is not currently available to UK accounts, Facebook is planning on rolling out the new setting to worldwide users in time.

Planning your digital ‘legacy’ – new Facebook feature for grieving relations


Facebook has added a new feature enabling users in the US to add a “legacy contact” to their account, namely a trusted person who can gain control of their account and memorialise – or delete it – in the event of their death. The option to proactively plan ahead for care of a Facebook account highlights the important issue of what will happen to your digital presence when you die.

The feature, although perhaps a little morbid in nature, gives family and friends the chance to take care of a Facebook account in the event of the account holder’s death by allowing them to post memorials, respond to friend requests and update cover and profile photos.

The ‘legacy contact’ will not be able to log in to the account as this is deemed to be a ‘violation’ of Facebook’s policy to never release login information to anyone other than the account holder even after death. This means that the legacy contact will not have access to private messages.

The new setting comes in response to thousands of requests from people who have experienced loss or are grieving and for those who ‘want a say in what happens to their account after death’.

Under the previous system, which is still in place in the UK, the account is either frozen as a memorial account (not managed by anyone) or deleted in its entirety by Facebook when they receive a valid request from family members (with proof of death in the form of an obituary or other documentation about the death).

Although the “legacy contact” feature is not currently available to UK accounts, Facebook is planning on rolling out the new setting to worldwide users in time.

For more information, see the following link: http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2015/02/adding-a-legacy-contact/

Angela Bowman H&S smallAngela Bowman H&S small

Angela Bowman
01865 781210
angela.bowman@henmansfreeth.co.uk


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Forget Sports Personality of the Year and the FIFA Puskas Award for Best Goal of the year (http://www.theguardian.com/voluntary-sector-network/poll/2014/nov/08/trustee-of-the-year-award-2014?CMP=new_1194, not that you’d be interested).

We mentioned in a recent post “Trustee Week”, which in case you weren’t aware was last week. The Guardian has announced Trustee of the Year and here are the results.

http://www.theguardian.com/voluntary-sector-network/poll/2014/nov/08/trustee-of-the-year-award-2014?CMP=new_1194

People who mostly give of their time for free, and in theory (although hopefully rarely in practice) could be personally liable for their mistakes, even if they operate within the context of an incorporated charity.

Doesn’t sound like much of a bargain in today’s materialist, what’s-in it-for-me consumer society, but without these people where would we be?


Following some really innovative ideas on how to collect donations including Cancer Research’s trial of near field communication to allow contactless donations through shop windows and a guide to accepting donations in Bitcoins I saw an interesting partnership between the Star Wars franchise and UNICEF.

Through Humble Bundle (a pay-what-you-want platform for a downloading computer games) gamers can choose how much they pay for three games. If they pay more than average they get six extra games and if they pay slightly more again they get another three games.

The buyers also decide how much of what they pay goes to the game designers and how much to charity, in this case UNICEF.

So far, around 334,000 gamers have each paid an average of around $12 for the games so UNICEF currently stands to get a share of about $3.8 million. The promotion has six days of its two week-run left so the pie UNICEF will get a slice of should get much bigger.

Obviously, not every charity can benefit from the largesse and pulling-power of a multi-billion dollar entertainment franchise but in this case the force is strong.

James Christian

Trainee Solicitor

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Christmas baublesChristmas baubles

It’s been a busy year for the charities sector as we look back, with but one day to the Final Countdown to 2015.

The Lobbying Act came into force in January, but it only really started to kick in for charities with the beginning of the regulated period in September and its full impact will only become apparent in the coming months as we approach the General Election.

Will the Act have a “chilling effect” on charities’ ability to campaign, as predicted?

That’s an interesting one, because only a handful of charities have so far registered as non-party campaigners and it remains to be seen whether the Electoral Commission and the Charity Commission will take up campaigning issues with charities and whether those organisations’ primary response will be that their activities don’t meet the two stage test to be caught by the Act, in particular the “purpose test” – ie that their usual campaigning activities cannot reasonably be regarded as intended to influence voters to vote for or against one or more political parties, candidates, etc.

The Charity Commission continues its evolution from friendly neighbourhood bobby on the beat, always willing to give directions and to help a struggling elderly person in distress, to ultra-serious detective constable hunched over a bank of PC screens in a darkened room, intent on analysing trends to proactively regulate the sector and coming down hard on those individuals and charities who abuse positions of trust and diminish the sector in the eyes of the public.

This year saw additional funding for the commission – for the purpose of identifying abuse and mismanagement in charities – and the introduction to Parliament of the draft Protection of Charities bill to equip the commission with more powers to deal with wayward trustees and charities.

The draft bill is currently undergoing scrutiny by a parliamentary sub-committee but there’s no chance of the bill becoming law this side of the General Election and it’s anyone’s guess whether the new government will find time for it in the new parliament.

And our predictions for 2015?

Caroline Flack will star in a West End show, Jamie Dornan will win the Best Actor Award at the BAFTAs for his performance in “The Fall 2”, Manchester City will win the Premier League title (again) and “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” will be amazing.

As always, we will be judged by our results…

Best wishes to our all readership for a Happy New Year.


Autumn oak leaves in sunshineAutumn oak leaves in sunshine

In case you hadn’t noticed, last week was the Autumn Statement.

No, not that one, but something more prosaic and of importance to charities.

As a seasoned politician the Chancellor grabbed the headlines by announcing distribution of LIBOR fines to military charities, one-off payments for church roof repairs and VAT rebates for hospice and emergency service charities. While very welcome these rebates only put the affected charities on a level playing field with non-charity providers, are going to be worth around £9 million a year and won’t kick in until next April.

Perhaps of more significance will be whether this principle of VAT rebate to charities can be extended to other areas of the sector – irrecoverable VAT on charity activities is valued at £1.5bn a year – and also the longer term, structural issues addressed by the Treasury, such as maximising recovery of gift aid and a review of the structure of business rates.

Around £750 million Gift Aid is estimated to go unclaimed every year and the Government’s proposals to reduce this figure include simplifying Gift Aid on digital donations, giving intermediaries more involvement in administration of the process and extending the existing review of donor benefits to include consideration of the rules for claiming Gift Aid on membership and entrance fees.

The Government has indicated the review of business rates is not aimed at the vast majority of charities but as business rates relief of £1.6 billion a year is more valuable to charities than Gift Aid and, at a time when many charities are not receiving the 20% discretionary relief, you can be sure the sector is going to watch this one very carefully and not be distracted by announcements of reliefs or gifts of the odd million pounds here and there.

In the meantime, back to Keats…


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Money bagMoney bag

Today the lucky winners of the Pope’s charity auction are to be announced.

Pope Francis is raffling off his Homero Ortega brand hat, a new four-wheel-drive Fiat Panda, bicycles, an espresso coffee machine, watches and other objects he has received as gifts in order to raise money for the poor.

In the past, most gifts given to popes have either been quietly given away to missions, church institutions, or have gathered dust in a Vatican warehouse.

Francis, the first Latin American pope, has made concern for the poor one of the hallmarks of his papacy. He recently ordered shower stalls to be built around the Vatican so that homeless people in the area could wash up.

This is a brilliant gesture but why not think bigger?

For those of you who have had a mooch around St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum in Rome will know there’s a lot of gear there that would fetch a lorra, lorra more money than an Espresso machine.

We’re not saying sell Michelangelo’s Pietà – which you couldn’t, because it’s priceless – but how about rummaging through all those dark, dusty storerooms at the Vatican for less spectacular works of arts which, relatively speaking would still be “bobby dazzlers”, in the parlance of that great sage David Dickinson, and that could be within the grasp of your everyday billionaire, using the proceeds to help the poor even more?

Just a thought but in these times surely we need to think outside the box when the need is great….?


Compliance, Rules, Regulations and Guidelines, arrows, sign, street signCompliance, Rules, Regulations and Guidelines, arrows, sign, street sign

Charles Dickens was great with names to convey the personality of his characters. Mr Murdstone sounds like a hard, cold man – and he was.

Uriah Heep sounds a creep and yes, in essence, that was him to a tee.

Sir Leicester Dedlock doesn’t sound like a radical young buck and, trust me, he wasn’t.

“Helping Hands for the Needy” was a name that surely the great author would have approved of, for a charity which ran overseas health care and emergency relief projects.

Dickens also specialised in convoluted plots but even he might have struggled to make up this charity’s sorry tale, which serves as a lesson in how not to do governance.

In short (to use Victorian parlance):

  • The Charity Commission opened a statutory enquiry into the charity in August 2010
  • The commission suspended one of the trustees who was also the CEO and who resigned before the commission could remove him permanently as trustee
  • The inquiry found that the trustees had not maintained proper financial controls over income and expenditure, kept proper records or produced annual financial accounts for the charity
  • Thousands of pounds of charitable funds were misused
  • One of the trustees received unauthorised payments from the charity in breach of trust – including payments for parking and speeding fines and for building works on the trustee’s private residence.

While one of the then trustees disputes the commission’s findings, the regulator concluded that there had been serious failings in the administration and governance of the charity which amounted to misconduct by the charity’s then trustees and in March 2011 the charity was placed into voluntary liquidation by the trustees. The liquidator has started legal action to recover funds from one of the charity’s trustees.

This is all highly topical. At present parliament is scrutinising the detail of the draft Protection of Charities bill, in particular the scope of proposed new powers to be given to the regulator in respect of errant trustees and charities.

Yesterday The Guardian ran a piece entitled “Charity Commission and the voluntary sector: what has gone wrong?” cataloguing the unpopularity of the regulator as it takes a more proactive approach to regulation in response to previous criticism from watchdogs (click here):

But coming back to our author of the day and to the words of one of his most famous creations, surely for those running charities it’s not enough to say:

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year

and everyone in the sector should adopt Ebenezer’s beady eye for the bottom line and for the detail of ledgers and rules and regulations, even if it’s not the most enjoyable part of the job.

 Otherwise, the road to hell is just paved with good intentions.


education, university, school, graduation caps on a white background

We love it when followers to our blog start a conversation with us, rather than sit at the back of class with their feet up, flicking elastic bands and throwing paper darts.

Roger Moors works at SEEM, based in Nottingham, which support the creation and development of social businesses and social enterprises in order that they become sustainable and deliver significant and enduring social impact.

We welcome all contributions to the blog from social enterprises as well as from charities, to broaden the debate. Roger has just published a paper on an alternative model for Higher Education student fees based on the concept that a savings pension pot could be used to fund university tuition fees.

Essentially Roger’s proposal is that:

  • Under a Fully Funded Scheme, savings put aside for retirement by investors could be used to fund university tuition fees rather than being invested in financial assets.
  • Graduates  repay their tuition by accepting to pay a higher rate of marginal income tax over a fixed number of years rather than repay a fixed amount.
  • The scheme  would offer potential benefits to students, investors and the state. For      students, it offers practical benefits in that they do not finish studies with the burden of a large capital debt; this could help graduates secure mortgages or other loan facilities near the start of their working lives.  Given that investment is motivated by private rather than social return, funding could also be extended to the postgraduate level. There would be      further equity benefits as students from disadvantaged backgrounds would      not face the psychological barriers imposed by large capital debts.
  • The benefit to the state would also be part practical and part intangible. The reduced      burden on the state would free-up resources for use in other areas whilst easier access to higher education would generate the extensive positive external benefits outlined in section two; improved productivity and hence increasing economic performance at the macroeconomic level.

You can read the paper by clicking on http://lnkd.in/dU5a5xV

If you’d like to learn more about this or about SEEM, Roger can be contacted on roger@seem.uk.net  / 0115 900 3299


It’s Friday and, as I look out of the window at all that snow (slush?), thoughts turn to leisure so I decided to compile a list of charities mentioned in fiction.

Charities are often a powerful force for good but in the world of literature they only seem to be covers for sinister organisations. Take these three examples:

FIRCO (Fraternité Internationale de la Resistance Contre L’Oppression)

Translated as the international brotherhood against oppression, FIRCO is a charity situated on the Boulevard Haussman in Paris but which is really a cover for the head quarters of SPECTRE (the SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence Terrorism Revenge and Extortion), the organisation headed by Ernst Stavro Blofeld, which hijacks an airforce bomber carrying nuclear warheads and attempts to blackmail NATO for £100 million in Ian Fleming’s Thunderball.

SILC (the Society for the Improvement of London’s Children)

In Anthony Horowitz’s Sherlock Holmes story The House of Silk, SILC appears from the outside to be an orphanage and school that takes in young boys, educates them and provides opportunities for them to improve their lives.  The grim reality is that SILC is grooming the young boys. Fighting against a conspiracy to silence him, which sees Holmes framed for murder, Holmes uncovers the truth and closes the school down. Unable to get over the terrible truth behind SILC, Holmes burns the school to the ground.

Signpost & Seven Friends Navigation Company

Issa Karpov is the Chechen son of Grigori Karpov, a dead Russian Colonel. Years earlier the Colonel had placed dirty money with a private bank in Hamburg to be laundered and Issa has inherited the money, $12.5 million. as the plot unfolds in A Most Wanted Man by John Le Carré, Issa plans to give all the money away to charities chosen by Dr Faisal Abdullah, known as “Signpost” to the intelligence services. Signpost and the charities pay Seven Friends Navigation Company $50,000 to deliver food aid but is anyone aware that the transport company siphons off some of the shipment which is sold by militants to buy arms?

Can you help us out by highlighting other charities you have come across in literature? Preferably those which have brought joy and solace to the world, as a counterpoint to the shady ones I have mentioned.

Answers on a postcard or, if you really must, by email: james.christian@freeths.com

James Christian

Trainee Solicitor

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Charity word, charity in sandCharity word, charity in sand

You may all recall the “Great British Rake Off” article about charities in the Daily Mail a couple of months ago.

Fat cat pay, appalling waste and hidden agendas… etc.”

You get the idea, so no need to give you the link.

A group was started by CharityComms and NCVO just before this article appeared – “Understanding Charities Group” – to bring together interested people across the sector to think about issues related to public trust in charities and how to increase understanding of the sector.

This is on the basis that while public trust in charities remains high, there is no room for complacency in an environment where people want to know much more about the organisations they engage with.

The group believes trust levels could be at risk because of a lack of understanding of modern charities and how they operate and that charities must be proactive about upholding public trust.

Last Friday we attended a productive early meeting of the group in London along with around 100 others who work in or with the sector.

The aim of the group is to focus on four strands of work for a limited period of time, but on the understanding that shifting public perception is a long-term objective and realistically will take up to 10 years to achieve.

These strands are:

  • creating a narrative for the sector as a whole;
  • engaging with charities and creating ways for them to engage with their audiences;
  • getting more generic media coverage for charities and creating a media rebuttal protocol: the press which charities tend to get portrays them as “angels” or “devils”, with little exposure of how a charity goes about its ordinary business, perhaps contributing to a distorted view of their work.
  • researching and understanding the public, testing ideas and narratives out on them and measuring success.

In the coming days the group will provide a summary of last week’s discussions. If you are interested in receiving further details then let Robert Nieri know.

Or you can go straight to those organising the group: Vicky@charitycomms.org.uk

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