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Why Harry and Meghan’s Archewell charity losing £8.7m is not as bad as it sounds

Donations to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Archewell Foundation have fallen by $11m (£8.7m) in the past year – but that may not be as bad as it sounds.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s organisation, named after their son Archie, made $5m (around £4m) in revenue this year, issued grants of $1.2m (£950,000) to charities and has $11.2m (around £8.9m) of remaining funding, according to a public disclosure form filed with the American tax authorities.

But it also showed the charity experienced a drop of $11m (£8.7m) in funding between 2021 and 2022, but then an increase of $3m this year to $5m (£4m) – although this is still $8m (£6.4 million) below the first year’s income.

An annual tax filing for 2022 showed the charity recorded a loss last year of $674,485 (£538,657).

Although the discrepancy seems large, an expert told i this might not be as worrying for the foundation as it seems. In fact, fluctuations in charitable donations are very common.

“A drop could easily be attributed to several factors,” said charity treasurer Gareth Buckley. “One is the increase in cost of living and less disposable income. This is seen more with charities relying on smaller and high-volume donations.

“In this reported case it is more likely that the charity received a large one-off donation which was never expected to be repeated. This would make year-on-year donation comparisons somewhat irrelevant.”

Archewell launched with $13m in 2021, with $10m coming from a single donor. This figure dropped to $2m last year, and those donations were from two individual anonymous donors.

Of the $1.2m donated from the foundation this year, $100,000 was given to the Halo Trust, a mine-clearing charity supported by Diana, Princess of Wales.

Prince Harry reached out to members of the Halo Trust team working in Ukraine after the Russian invasion.

Among other donations was $125,000 for a civil rights charity and $200,000 for a “gender justice” organisation in Washington.

The charity also gave $165,000 to Kaboom Inc to install a play area for children in Uvalde, Texas, near the site of a school shooting where 19 students and two teachers were killed in May last year.

Archewell also supports “access to ethical journalism” and donates to Free Press, a Washington-based media outlet that focuses on debunking misinformation.

“As long as the funds donated are being used to further the charity’s aims then any fluctuations in funding are not a concern,” Mr Buckley, insolvency practitioner and treasurer of the charity Taunton Round Table 140, said.

“When large donations are received, projects and investments are planned accordingly. It is important for the charity to invest the funds properly and depending on the complexity of the projects this can take several years.”

The Duke and Duchess do not draw a salary from the foundation, but Archewell’s executive director, James Holt, received a big pay rise last year.

Mr Holt previously worked as the head of communications for the Sussexes and the Cambridges. He was paid $207,405, on top of a $20,000 bonus. His salary in 2021 was $59,846.

The foundation’s co-executive director Shauna Nep was paid $92,994, and an additional $2,533 in compensation.

“I’d say that the drop is not really a warning sign unless the charity was relying on continued funding for their general overheads such as rents and wages,” Mr Buckley continued.

“As a responsible charity, projects are planned based upon on existing funds. Obviously if they wish to continue to have an impact in future years, they will need new donations.”

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