The Network – A Sign of The Times?

BNI money in motion

Now we all know there are charities that do good work and in an era of depleted public services it is often essential and vital work in support of the most vulnerable people in society. Nevertheless we have to say some of them seem to operate along the same principles as our self-serving and dysfunctional public services with over-inflated salaries to match – but with the added sickly ingredient of self-righteousness.

Consider if you will the case study below involving a Merseyside-wide charity to which we invite those in the know to comment on the allegations and concerns that have been brought to our attention . Although we understand if a certain Wirral councillor declines to do so as they got themselves into a bit of bother the last time that happened.

However personalities aside – our interest is particularly aroused by mention of a networking group called BNI ( Business Network International) . Now our regular readers will know how we have often railed against nepotism, favouritism , cronyism – that often masquerades as ‘networking’. We’ve often asked questions about the role of Common Purpose , the Knights of St Columba , Freemasons and ‘The Inner Ring’ (about which more another time) – anything that might explain some of the appalling things that local politicians and public servants seem to be able to get away with . However BNI is a whole new (and a rather worrying development) for us . It’s like Wirral Chamber of Commerce on steroids. Whilst we understand that schmoozers and shysters can see the appeal we do question as to whether charities should be mixed up in such arrangements – as they appear to scream all kinds of conflict of interest (see below). For more background information read here : Making More Money with BNI

The Chair of a Merseyside-wide charity is/was also part of a networking group called BNI which is a referral based organisation, allowing businesses to network and pass each other referrals generating business for themselves and making their chapter wealthy.  If you’re not regularly passing referrals to each other, BNI can remove you from the Chapter and cancel your membership.
The Chair joined the charity as a board member and at the time heavily criticised the then CEO (name provided) .  The Chair over time recruited more board members for the charity all of those being BNI members/friends.  Which meant that when it came down to a majority vote, all BNI members stuck together meaning all the votes went in their favour (when choosing suppliers which would benefit themselves, when choosing whether or not to get rid of the CEO etc).
In March/April 2017 ,the board decided to recruit a new CEO. The chair influenced this and used a recruiting company via BNI (at the charity’s expense using public funding and a referral point for the Chair  to advertise for a new CEO. During the interview process the current CEO  applied and got the position. We later found out that a recruiting Board member and the chair knew the successful candidate . The person who was appointed CEO actually the recruiting member’s boss for another company (name provided) . They declared they knew them – but not to that extent. Another board member ( a non BNI member  – name provided)  left the room stating that they would have no part in this staged interview 
Whilst this was going on, the former CEO (name provided) had grounds for unfair dismissal and was paid £10,000 to keep quiet.  This was taken out of public funding by Wirral and Liverpool Council.  Funding which could have been used elsewhere for the beneficiaries of this charity . So £10,000 was used to get the chair’s mate into a job leaving members of the charity  £10,000 short of public funding.
Since the new CEO has taken over, he has removed anyone that does not agree with them on the Board.  Members on the Board are backed into a corner and almost bullied into agreeing with the BNI members. The recruiting Board member has been paid by the charity for telecommunication services which is not the cheapest service. The CEO is using the charity (and their public funding) to secure contracts to further his own private business.  They are currently trying to acquire a company car through the charity (another liability for the charity).  Even though there are staff that are using their own cars to fulfil their job roles.  The Board are asked to provide 3 quotes for anything that they require.  Generally out of the 3 quotes they will choose the most expensive quote as it is a ‘friend’.
The Chair and the BNI board members will take all of the money from this Charity maybe get as many referrals as they can to keep face in their BNI groups, then move on to another struggling charity.
I am unsure if the Chair and the recruiting member are still apart of BNI but I feel something is going on behind the scenes that staff and I are not aware of.  An incompetent CEO is now in full control of public funding from Wirral, Liverpool and Sefton Council and directing any funding towards themselves , their friends, their business, the Chair’s charity and not services for people for whom the charity was set up. Using phrases like ‘if they don’t support us, we won’t support them’ (referring to the people who access our services funded by local councils and don’t buy into his mates businesses e.g transport services to airports, energy companies and their tariffs etc.  They are bringing in consultants which are friends at £250 per day to ‘sort out’ ‘the Charity’.  Again, a fee which is taken from public funding.
Anything you find please keep us updated.  We are lead to believe we are paranoid but a lot of things just do not add up and we’re becoming more and more suspicious.  It is almost like they want us to lose the public funding so the Chair can take those contracts for their own charity.  Do you think it is suspicious?
To which we can only reply : hell , yes!

6 thoughts on “The Network – A Sign of The Times?

  1. I was invited to a BNI meeting at the Hoylake Holiday Inn Express some time ago. In my opinion, this organisation is a cult and I found it totally unsuitable for my business model because I am bound by a strict code of conduct to my professional body.

    I contacted colleagues, one of whom had been the leader of a BNI chapter. He decided to resign when he realised that the potential for corruption would bring him into conflict with our code of professional conduct.

    At the meeting in Hoylake, I noted the presence of LRJ, but this was before her fall into disgrace.

    Any organisation that puts the interests of its members above accepted standards of professional ethics should be treated with extreme caution and there is a strong argument for the declaration of membership of any such organisation, not only Freemasonry, to be declared when businesses are bidding for public contracts.

    • I agree with all of the above and am aware that contracts are still being given to BNI members and not going out to contract. The current CEO is still a member of BNI and it could be argued working in his best interest within BNI and not the charity he is being paid to manage.

      • Let’s all jump on the band wagon, burn her at the stake then we will know if she deserves the slating for doing a great job and saving a charity about to close and staff moved to another charity all behind the backs of the trustees.

        After a good look 👀 I can’t find the CEO on the BNI site so curious to know we’re he is, or this is just more inaccurate wrong information.

        Stinks of a little witch hunt this, maybe it all just needs to just STOP!!

        Maybe it’s the Disgruntled trustee who left due to a massive conflict of interest as she was on the board of a competing charity in St Helens waiting to get their hands on large contracts, while sitting pretending to help and manovering her knife into the chairs back.

        It’s great that the charity is back on its feet, with the help of the business community, MP’s and local Councillors. A real team effort coordinated by a chair who made a promise and carried it out, so it’s not being handed over in a sweet deal to the old CEO to feather her nest.

        I say well done those involved in the turn around of this charity, down to the skills of the chair and trustees bringing in the new CEO through a fair competitive process and following through on her promise to those she serves.

        A good news story and BNI should be proud if they helped in any way. It’s great to see such an amazing charity in very safe hands moving into a new bright future.

  2. News just in. How Wirral Council lavish our ready cash onto secretive, bullying organisations.

    It’s all done behind closed, padlocked doors with the sign, “FULLY EXEMPT” nailed onto them…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s