Charity gives a £2.8m parting gift as it prepares to close


Global health charity Merlin has handed over two final gifts worth a combined £2.8m as it prepares to close this June, a decade after it was taken over by Save the Children UK.

Merlin’s trustees have decided to “expedite the wind-down of activities” at the charity, according to its latest accounts.

Merlin has been preparing for closure for several years and the accounts confirm that it is in the process of transferring all of its remaining assets to Save the Children.

Merlin ended its own charitable activities in 2016 but still holds some restricted funding and continues to receive income from legacy gifts.

Its trustees have asked the Charity Commission for guidance on the use of restricted funds but hope to transfer all the money to support emergency health work at Save the Children, the accounts say.

Companies House filings show it has donated £2.8m to Save the Children since 2021.

In the past seven years Merlin has also returned some restricted grants if the cash cannot be spent according to the donors’ wishes, including about £30,000 last year. 

The charity held just under £900,000 at the end of June 2022, the accounts show.

Save the Children took over Merlin in 2013. Third Sector reported at the time that, although Merlin had an annual income of about £60m, it had struggled to raise enough unrestricted funding to support ongoing work and had run financial deficits in the two years before the merger.

A Save the Children spokesperson confirmed that the charity had received donations worth £2m and £800,000 from Merlin in the past two years.

They told Third Sector: “These sums represent legacy income received by Merlin after it had ceased to operate. They have now been donated as grants for Save the Children to spend on emergency health care.

“Any remaining reserves or new legacies are expected to be transferred to Save the Children in the next six months, after which Merlin will be left with nil reserves.”

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