A new article by The Guardian has taken aim at Denise Coates, the billionaire owner of betting firm bet365. Usually, the coverage the media provides focuses on Coates’ social activities or her laudable entrepreneurial success, as the business she built is one of the biggest taxpayers in the United Kingdom. Coates’ philanthropist endeavors are generous yet rarely come along with much fanfare or covet public attention. Bet365’s boss is worth $10.82 million (£8 billion) with her family.
The media argues that the charity arm she set up, Denise Coates Foundation, dropped its donations for various good causes from $12.20 million (£9 million) to $8.40 million (£6.2 million) in 2020. Nevertheless, the charity’s “reserves” have reached $780 million (£568 million). Coates is a well-salaried executive and deservedly so. She took home over £1 billion ($1.35 million) in 2020, thanks to her pay-and-dividend package.
The Pace Will Pick Up
While various divisions of bet365 have been frequent contributors, the pandemic has thrown a spanner in the works. According to the foundation, its activities had been temporarily “restricted.” Nevertheless, the foundation assured that the volume of its donations in years to come is expected to make up for any previous underwhelming amounts forwarded to good causes.
Meanwhile, British law does not specify how much a charity should be donating relative to the amounts it holds. Charity Commission’s most recent guidance of 2016 argues that there is “no single level, or even a range of, reserves that is right for all charities.”
However, it does recommend to charities, which hold huge volumes of donation money, to revise the way they operate to make donations smooth, suggesting that there is a way to circumnavigate any potential “constraints” to allow for more streamlined day-to-day activities.
Sustainability does remain a key factor, though. While the Coates family has not hesitated to offer copious amounts to the charity, the organization also expects to be sustainable in the sense that it does not have to rely on one single source of donation money to carry out its operations:
“This policy should allow the foundation to operate on an enduring basis without being dependent on donations from any one source.”
The Coates Foundation has also made sure that it does not have to sort out too many hurdles when choosing to donate. For example, it expanded the total amount of unrestricted funds available for donations to $27.30 million (£20.2 million) from previously $20.96 million (£15.5 million).
Donations Keep Coming In
Contributions to various good causes have been ongoing. In 2021, the foundation donated $2.60 million (£1.9 million) to the University Hospitals of North Midlands. In April, specifically, Denise Coates spent another $13.50 million (£10 million) to support the charity’s staff, who were also impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns.
Throughout the year, there were 17 donations coming from the foundation’s end for a total of 12 institutions. The Douglas Macmillan Hospice received another $405,000 million (£300,000) to help with taking care of the 137 patients that are receiving treatment there.
The charity kept donating to various initiatives, many of which focused on COVID-19. One of the donations involved the Kick4Life campaign, which focuses on a sports stadium in Lesotho.
Bet365 donates separately to various charities that help tackle gambling addiction in the general population, which has been a persistent social problem with 2.7% of people in Great Britain suffering from a gambling disorder, or roughly 1.4 million people. Yet only 3% of all problem gamblers get help. Much work has yet to be done.