Sarah Sleet, CEO of Coeliac UK, came to speak in our area recently, and although much of what she said was motherhood and apple pie stuff, there were a few really significant points.

The first was that there are 900 new members of Coeliac UK per month. Per month!

The second was that it costs around £25 per member to keep this charity going – and that Coeliac UK is largely reliant on donations from its members. At the moment it is free to join.

The third is that most people do not make donations. I forget the exact numbers (should have written them down) but somewhere in the order of 60% make no donation at all, and that only about 8% donate over £20/year.

It doesn’t take an economic genius to see that there is an ever increasing shortfall between income and outgoings. Yes, I know that some of CUK’s income comes from advertising in the magazine, or from sponsorship from the big manufacturers, but for the most part the income comes from us, the members.

The decision to be made is: should the charity move to a subscription basis, or stay on a donations basis?

This isn’t an easy decision for the trustees to make, and the implementation of the subscription would be tricky (what about families with more than one coeliac?). It will go to the membership for a vote before any final decisions are made, but it is something to think about over the next few months.

In the meantime, I shall commit to increasing our own donation to Coeliac UK. I – for one – hadn’t realised the cost per member of running the charity, and therefore wasn’t donating enough. No doubt this is true for many other members, and so perhaps CUK should think about making this clearer to the membership.