RICHARD BLAUSTEN, editor of CHARITIES MANAGEMENT, writes: The news material below is just a selection of items to give readers a broad feel of what is going on in the charity world with an emphasis that is not necessarily seen in other charity publications. Thus we highlight corporate involvement with charities, particularly the fundraising efforts of staff, and we run management-related items that we feel deserve particular attention.
Do have a great read of the whole NEWS section.
Charities report fraud losses of £8m
Charities are being warned by accountancy firm RSM about the dangers of fraud after new figures show that reported fraud losses reached almost £8m in 2018/19. The figures, obtained by RSM via a freedom of information request to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cyber-crime reporting centre, reveal that charities submitted 1,057 reports about fraud in 2018-19, with average losses per case totalling £7,428.
Employee fraud accounted for the highest level of fraud losses for charities (£1.685m), followed by abuse of a position of trust (£1.627m) and mandate fraud (£1.232m). The highest number of identified complaints were about mandate fraud (173), followed by employee fraud (95) and hacking (62).
Mandate fraud occurs when an employee is tricked into changing a regular payment mandate - such as a direct debit, standing order or bank transfer - and redirecting it into a fraudster’s account. Typically, a fraudster will contact an employee via email purporting to be from a supplier that receives regular payments. Often, these approaches can appear plausible as the fraudsters obtain details of staff members’ names and departments during phishing attacks.
The bogus supplier will explain that as they have changed banks, the standing order will need to be updated with the new account details. Often the scam will only come to light when the real supplier chases for payment. In some cases, this can be many months after the first transfer of money.
Nick Sladden, RSM's head of charities, says: “While this data is unlikely to show the true level of fraud affecting charities, it is quite revealing about the types of fraud to which charities are most regularly falling victim. Mandate fraud appears to be a particular problem with affected charities losing over £7,000 on average. Frankly, if staff receive the right training and if the correct controls are in place, there's no reason why these types of fraud attempts should be successful.”
Continues Sladden: “It's also clear that some charities need to keep a closer eye on their employees - and on those in positions of authority. While noone wants to work within a culture of distrust, charities still need to be alert to the threat of insider fraud and ensure that proper checks and balances are in
place to minimise the risk. While some larger charities may be able to absorb the losses from fraud, for smaller charities already struggling with cashflow issues, a loss in the thousands can prove critical.”
Warning issued over banned charity boss
The Insolvency Service has announced a 7-year disqualification for a charity CEO who caused it to collapse by entering into contracts that set unachievable targets. He was the CEO and de facto director of the Lifeline Project, a registered charity employing 1,300 employees across 90 sites throughout the country. Incorporated in 1984, the charity provided drug and alcohol rehabilitation services to over 80,000 people across England and Scotland, including a number of prisoners.
The charity, however, called in insolvency practitioners in March 2017 after it was unable to pay its debts following a financial shortfall of £1.4 million. Just over a year later, in June 2018, the charity was placed in voluntary liquidation by the administrators. The administrator’s report to the Insolvency Service triggered an investigation and enquiries revealed that, between August 2015 and January 2016, the CEO had entered the charity into three Payments by Results (PbR) contracts with various local authorities.
A PbR contract is common in the health services industry, where payment is only made for services if certain pre-agreed targets are met. The Insolvency Service says that the CEO, however, signed these contracts without undertaking the necessary due diligence and failed to realise that the targets set were unachievable.
This resulted in the non-payment of more than £1.4 million – the shortfall that caused the charity to close. On 2 May 2019 the Secretary of State accepted a disqualification undertaking from the former CEO for a period of seven years. Effective from 23 May 2019, he is banned from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.
Robert Clarke, chief investigator for the Insolvency Service, says: "This case highlights the damage an irresponsible director can do even to longstanding charities and businesses that have served their communities well for decades. The lengthy disqualification is a warning to other directors who handle charitable funds that the Insolvency Service stands ready to take action to prevent the infliction of further damage to the charity sector."
Charities should prepare for digital tax filing
Accountancy software firm Xero is warning charities with over £85,000 taxable turnover that they will be affected by the new Making Tax Digital requirements from HMRC, albeit charities have been given a later deadline of October to get ready. Says Xero: “For those charities which will need to submit tax digitally under MTD, digital tools aren’t a nice to have, but a mandated requirement. If you don’t comply, you’ll be fined, so it’s worth getting your ducks in a row, now.”
Says accountancy firm Price Bailey: “Paper records will no longer be sufficient and it will become mandatory for charities which fall within MTD to keep digital records and to submit VAT returns directly from accounting software. Information can only be submitted to HMRC via an Application Programme Interface (API) which can be done from software, bridging software or API enabled spreadsheets. You will no longer be able to submit your return through the government gateway.
“To meet MTD requirements, there is no need to have a complete set of digital records all in one piece of software. If there is a digital link between the pieces of software, records can be kept in a range of compatible digital formats. It is expected that the reporting obligations will change after Brexit.”
The Charity Tax Group points out that HMRC will allow a period of time (“the soft landing period”) for businesses to have in place digital links between all parts of their functional compatible software. For the first year charities will not be required to have digital links between software programs.
This means, says the Charity Tax Group, that if Making Tax Digital rules first apply to your charity from either a: VAT period starting on or after 1 April 2019, you will have until your first VAT return period starting on or after 1 April 2020 to put digital links in place; or a VAT period starting on or after 1 October 2019, you will have until your first VAT return period starting on or after 1 October 2020 to put digital links in place.
During the soft landing period only, where a digital link has not been established between software programs, HMRC will accept the use of cut and paste as being a digital link for these VAT periods.
Awareness of regulator increases trust in fundraising
The Fundraising Regulator has published research on fundraising and regulation, which reports that awareness of the Fundraising Regulator and the Code of Fundraising Practice helps to increase public trust in fundraisers. This includes members of the public who were initially found to be distrustful of fundraisers but whose trust levels improved after hearing about the Fundraising Regulator’s work.
The report finds that when the public is informed about the regulator and the Code of Fundraising Practice, there is widespread agreement that both were important, with 9 in 10 people making this point.
Other findings include:
- Trust in fundraisers correlates with donating behaviour. People who trust fundraisers are more likely than those who do not trust them to donate money to charity by any means.
- Fundraisers play a key role in facilitating charitable donations with a third of donors using them to give money to charity.
- More than 80% of the public agree that it is important that fundraisers display the Fundraising Regulator logo.
- The UK public is generous, with two thirds of people having donated in the past year. Around 60% of people have made a one-off donation and a quarter make a regular donation.
Big funding for new brain bank
Two leading neurological charities have announced £3 million of funding for Europe’s largest brain and tissue bank, based in London. The funds from the MS Society and Parkinson’s UK will enable an all-new digital brain bank, complete with virtual reality interface. The MS and Parkinson’s Tissue Bank at Imperial College London will enable scientists from around the world to access brains virtually.
The charities will continue to fund the current infrastructure of the Tissue Bank – already the largest repository of MS and Parkinson’s brain and spinal cord tissue in Europe – which has shared over 100,000 samples with scientists since it opened 20 years ago, leading to more than 700 research projects worldwide.
Concert hall selects first charity partner
The Royal Albert Hall has chosen the Amber Trust, which seeks to give blind and partially sighted children the chance to fulfil their musical aspirations, as its first ever annual charity partner. A new charity initiative by the concert hall, the Amber Trust was chosen by an all-staff vote. The trust will be supported by the hall throughout 2019 via bucket collections at events, providing concert tickets, volunteering time from staff, and fundraising opportunities.
Adam Ockelford, founder of the Amber Trust, says: “We have grown from strength to strength, and we’re delighted to be brought on board the hall’s new scheme, which represents a terrific milestone for us. We believe that visual impairment and other disabilities should not prevent children and young people accessing musical opportunities, and can’t wait to collaborate with the hall in working towards that goal.”
Craig Hassall, chief executive of the Royal Albert Hall, comments: “We are delighted to launch this initiative, which will engage the hall’s staff with a partner charity throughout the year, and we couldn’t be happier for the first beneficiary of the scheme to be the Amber Trust – which shares our belief in the transformative power of music.”
The scheme’s launch event at the hall on saw the charity’s leading partners and ambassadors come together for a performance in the hall’s Elgar Room from the charity’s beneficiaries and patron Derek Paravicini, the blind autistic musical prodigy. This included Derek and two of the beneficiaries playing on Elton John’s Big Red Piano.
Filling the silence with donations
The Institute of Cancer Research, London has teamed up with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to create a new piece of music with a twist – it has been left deliberately unfinished. Entitled Let’s Finish It, the unfinished symphony abruptly cuts to silence three quarters of the way through – symbolising the unfinished state of a building being created by the ICR to spearhead efforts for new cancer cures.
The intention is that the Institute of Cancer Research Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery will be one of the world’s most important buildings and home to the most successful academic cancer drug discovery scientists anywhere. However, the building needs an additional £15m in donations to be completed.
The ICR commissioned Callum Morton-Huseyin, a 25 year-old emerging contemporary classical composer, to create an original piece of music and for Britain’s national orchestra, the RPO, to perform it. The music is inspired by the incomplete building itself, the efforts of researchers to outsmart cancer’s evolution and their currently unfinished business in defeating the disease.
The sections of the unfinished symphony are based on the ICR’s efforts to understand the way cancers change and evolve, with the highs and lows of the music reflecting the historic successes and frustrations of cancer research. As the piece progresses, the music takes an upward turn, reflecting the building’s construction, the ICR’s science and the future discoveries that could overcome cancer’s evolution.
However, around three quarters of the way through, before the contemporary classical symphony can reach its most optimistic heights, the music abruptly cuts off. The remaining minute of the track plays in total silence. The music will remain in this unfinished state until the ICR’s building has received the funds it needs to be completed. At this point, the composition will be finished by Callum and the RPO, before becoming the official anthem for the completed centre.
Dr Olivia Rossanese, who will be head of biology in the new centre, says: “There will be no other cancer research building like this in the world. We’ll have computational biologists, geneticists, evolutionary scientists and drug discovery researchers all working hand-in-hand in an unprecedented way to find new treatments that can overcome cancer evolution and drug resistance.
“It has the potential to completely change everything we thought we knew about cancer treatment, but firstly, it needs to be finished. The unfinished symphony beautifully highlights the importance of raising the final £15m so we can get to work on this exciting new area of research.”
Job website supports youth homeless
Job board CV-Library has chosen its charitable partner for the year as Centrepoint, the youth homelessness charity. Di Gornall, director of fundraising at Centrepoint, says: “We are absolutely delighted to be partnering with CV-Library this year. The partnership is off to a great start with CV-Library providing us with expertise to help solve some of the strategic challenges of supporting vulnerable young people into education and training.”
Fire safety in charity care homes
Any charities running care homes need to review their fire safety arrangements – care products company Blueleaf Care is warning all care homes to review their fire safety compliance on the basis that earlier this year, more than half of London-based care homes failed fire safety checks. A report by the London Fire Brigade showed that 57% of care homes involved in the one-off investigation received a formal notice to address the fire safety issues raised.
Blueleaf Care warns that other aggravating factors of fires within care homes include wedged open fire doors, electrical equipment (mainly faulty appliances and leads) and medical oxygen which is stored to closely to items such as matches and lighters.
Main safety issues included poor emergency planning and/or inadequate members of staff to implement the plan, insufficiently protected escape corridors and problematic fire doors.
So charities with care homes should be conducting regular fire risk assessments which identify the hazards; acknowledge who is at risk; decide on the precautions needed; record findings; review and update fire prevention and evacuation strategies.
One element that is often overlooked during an assessment is the roof of the building. Roof voids often increase the spread and severity of a fire so this risk should definitely be incorporated into your assessment, says Blueleaf Care.
Scottish charities increasingly reliant on legacies
Scottish charities are raising almost £72 million annually through legacy gifts and income is growing fast, according to a new report Scotland’s Legacy Fundraising Market 2019, published by Remember A Charity, a membership group of 200 charities. Scottish charities have become increasingly reliant on legacies. The top 78 legacy-earning charities headquartered in Scotland raise almost one quarter (24%) of their voluntary income through legacies, at an average of £918,000 per annum.
Although charities in Scotland have a relatively small share (3%) of the total UK legacy market, this study shows that income growth is accelerating. Scottish charities have seen a legacy income rise of 23% from 2007-2017, compared with 13% for those with a UK-wide remit and 4% for charities in England. Robust growth in the Scottish market is similar to that seen in the smaller Welsh market, which increased by 35% over the same period.
The Remember a Charity Report shows that major charities – those with annual income of £10 million and above – dominate the Scottish market, benefitting from 70% of legacy income. When it comes to the top charitable causes for gifts in wills, it is health charities which have the largest share by income (35%), followed by services and environmental organisations. As is the case across the UK, religious charities have lost ground, from 11% of the Scottish market in 2007 to 5% in 2017.
Rob Cope, director of Remember A Charity, says: “What strikes me from our conversations with fundraisers in Scotland is that the legacy market is performing far better than many charities realise. It is a vibrant market and there is significant potential for further growth, but as with any other area of fundraising, legacies need investment; time, energy and resources. Charities which grasp this opportunity at a strategic level will likely be those that benefit for many years ahead. A successful legacy programme can be completely transformational.”
The report also highlights challenges in the marketplace, with fundraisers voicing concerns that there needs to be a higher profile of legacy giving in Scotland and that there is a lack of specialist legacy fundraisers, particularly among smaller and rurally-based organisations. The current political climate and the issue of Scottish independence were also identified as potential barriers to legacy giving, particularly when the majority of UK legators are known to come from the South of England.
Historic trust funds modern medical solution
A grant of £8,360 from the Hospital Saturday Fund will enable more Princess Alice Hospice patients to be treated in a modern, efficient way. The grant will fund eight syringe-drivers for patients in the hospice and others receiving palliative end-of-life care at home. The fund, established in 1873 during the Victorian era of workhouses and poor public health, distributes the profits from a trading company – HSF Healthplan – four times a year to medical charities.
Accepting the grant on behalf of the hospice, in-patient unit manager Keetje Gull said: “This generous gift will go straight towards purchasing syringe-drivers, which enable patients to receive controlled doses of their medication in a comfortable way. They’re small, portable and versatile – just perfect for many patients’ benefit.”
Maritime aid charity set up
A new charity, Britannia Maritime Aid, has been set up to provide British and Commonwealth seafarer training at sea and deliver thousands of tonnes of aid relief to devastated parts of the world and in particular the Caribbean.
This is the result of work by representatives of the British maritime world, with support from the Chamber of Shipping, Merchant Navy Training Board, Trinity House, the Nautical Institute, Merchant Navy Association, other maritime organisations, politicians (in particular Jim Fitzpatrick MP), members of the House of Lords (Lords West, Greenway and Mountevans, among others), seafaring unions, Cammell Laird shipbuilders and livery companies.
There are advanced plans to build a specially designed multi-purpose vessel to revolutionise the delivery of humanitarian aid and disaster relief – with a dual role as a “state of the art” mobile training centre. The charity says the vessel will be fitted with dedicated seafarer berths and training facilities, including full mission simulators, for the next generation of British and Commonwealth Merchant Navy officer cadets and rating apprentices.
The vessel will operate 365 days a year, initially in the Caribbean, mobilising immediately to save lives when natural disaster strikes, with at least ten times the aid cargo capacity of existing vessels.
Stroke survivors charity launches
New charity A Stroke of Luck has launched to match stroke survivors with local fitness professionals to get them physically active. A digital platform is currently being built ready for launch later in 2019. This platform will allow stroke survivors to register and create a personal profile. They will become a member of the A Stroke of Luck Survivor’s Club.
This club will provide health and wellbeing advice as well as access to fitness videos. Fitness professionals will also register on the platform and create their personal profile where they will become a member of the club. By registering on the platform, personal trainers will have access to new prospective clients. Funding received by A Stroke of Luck will be converted to credits. These credits can be used by the stroke survivor to book a session with a qualified A Stroke of Luck approved fitness professional.
Practical courses from new charity
A new national charity called Dementia Carers Count has been launched to provide support for the family carers of people with dementia. It has evolved from what used to be the Royal Surgical Aid Society. The charity provides short, practical courses which can help carers to build the skills and confidence to see them through the ups and downs that caring can bring, and to connect and share the load with others experiencing similar challenges.
The charity is also in the process of creating a specialist research unit at the University of Worcester to investigate family carers’ needs, experiences and desired outcomes..
Dementia Carers Count has ambitious plans for the future. It is developing the first bespoke Dementia Carers Centre which will demonstrate the best of domestic scale dementia design, and a be a place where everyone will understand and empathise with what carers are going through. The charity plans to open a flagship centre and regional centres are planned over the next ten years.
Recycling milestone for charities
BIU group, the UK’s clothing and textile recycling operation, has reached the £9 million milestone of funds raised for partner charities across the UK. The company, which collects and recycles unwanted clothes, shoes and textiles with the aim of providing charities with an alternative income stream, was established in 2005.
“We work with regional charities up and down the country to help them collect discarded household items of clothing. For many it has become a major source of income generation,” says Carrie Carpenter, charity relationships manager at BIU Group.
There is no cost to BIU’s partners, all of which are registered charities, following best practice in accordance with UK guidelines and regulations. BIU provides all the equipment and services needed to operate its recycling schemes.
Bill Sivewright, CEO of Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, says: “Fundraising for charities takes many forms, but we believe that recycling adds another dimension of benefit for those people we support. The funds raised are certainly significant and a great source of regular income.
“However, the fact that we are also helping the planet in a wider context through effective recycling is a tremendous added benefit. Our relationship with BIU has strengthened over the years and we are absolutely delighted that they have achieved this incredible milestone.”
BIU currently has over 1,000 banks located at various points across the UK, many of them with the cooperation of supermarket chains.
Support for numeracy from bank
Santander has chosen National Numeracy as its new strategic charity partner over a three-year period between 2019-2021, donating £200,000 each year. The charity helps to raise low levels of numeracy among both adults and children, promoting the importance of everyday maths skills.
Recent research by Santander found that over half of Brits – 52% – wish numeracy, finances, and budgeting had been a bigger part of their life at home and school, with 40% saying they don’t feel “fully confident” with everyday budgeting and money management. This is also causing a tangible impact on people’s prospects, according to further research by National Numeracy, which found one in four people surveyed said they have been put off from applying for a new job which listed “using numbers and data” as a requirement.
The focus of the partnership will be to work together to improve financial inclusion in the UK, with a particular emphasis on ensuring Santander customers and communities are equipped with the necessary skills to understand and make better decisions with their finances.
The first partnership activity was “The Numbers Game” – an educational football-themed roadshow aimed at raising awareness of the importance of numeracy, leveraging Santander’s sponsorship of the UEFA Champions League. The Numbers Game visited eight cities across the UK. Over 9,000 people took part in the activity with 74% of participants saying they now feel more comfortable in dealing with numbers and 87% believing that confidence with numbers helps them manage their money better.
New community fund partnership
Not-for-profit online matching platform The Good Exchange has partnered with housing association Sovereign to launch a new £60,000 fund for community investment across the south of England.
Communities and charities in Hampshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Dorset, Devon, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and the Isle of Wight - located within a three-mile radius of the areas where Sovereign has homes - are encouraged to apply for grants from the organisation’s Community Assets Fund via The Good Exchange platform.
Grants will be awarded to support a wide variety of projects, from community events to upgrading community centres.
Additionally, because The Good Exchange platform automatically matches those seeking funding with charitable trusts, corporate givers, fundraisers and public who want to give to those causes, those applying for money from Sovereign may also be paired with other charitable givers, increasing their chances of gaining even more for their projects or charities.
Heather Bowman, Sovereign’s chief operating officer, says: “We’re working with The Good Exchange across our geography, so that we can support small community organisations to develop, sustain and become ‘anchors’, meeting their community’s aspirations. We’ve committed to increasing our funding for communities to £3m a year, because we know that when the drive and passion of a community is harnessed, nothing can stop people from achieving their goals.”
This new fund launch follows the closing of the Rosemary Apeal after reaching the fundraising goal of £5.5m for the new Greenham Trust Wing at the West Berkshire Community Hospital. The appeal had received £1.84m from 1,039 donations by members of the public of which £1.9m was matched by grant funders through the platform.
Children’s cancer bike ride is helped by motor retailer
Over 250 keen cyclists took part in the annual Children’s Cancer Ride in July on behalf of North of England Children’s Cancer Research, which saw them ride up to 22 miles along the banks of the River Tyne in Newcastle. £8,000 was raised with the help of sponsorship from motor retailer Lookers Skoda Newcastle. As well as sponsoring the event and providing support on the day, Lookers also contributed cycling merchandise such as water bottles and bike lights.
Lookers Skoda Newcastle has strong links with the North East’s cycle community, having last year begun a sponsorship of the Cycle Hub on the Newcastle Quayside, which acts as a community centre for cyclists of all ages and abilities, as well as offering bike hire, servicing and repairs. The Cycle Hub helped increase participation at the event by providing bike hire at the reduced rate of just £10.
North of England Children’s Cancer Research turned 40 this year and has raised £30 million over the past four decades, helping the North East establish itself as a world leader in childhood cancer research.
School support pack for armed forces children
Military children’s charity Little Troopers has launched a new resource for primary schools to support service children. The Military Child Wellbeing Course is the first of its kind and is designed to encourage children in the military community to explore the unique challenges they experience while their parents are in the armed forces.
The comprehensive pack features all the resources needed for the child-friendly, interactive course, which is made up of seven sessions. Topics covered include how to cope with separation, deployment, house moves and living abroad, as well as the personal themes of belonging, identity and mindfulness.
The course has been created by a group of experts, including a cognitive behavioural therapy specialist, creative arts psychotherapist and play therapists, alongside Little Troopers founder, army veteran and military parent, Louise Fetigan. There are more than 75,000 children in UK schools who have parents connected to the military
The Little Troopers course has been designed to be delivered to small groups of children ranging from 6 -11 years olds, making the material just as relevant to schools with two service children as to those with 100 or more. Currently there are four schools trialling the course: Wolvey CE Primary School in Leicestershire, Hythehill Primary School in Lossiemouth, Brunei MOD School and St Faith & St Martin CE Junior School in Lincoln.
Cycling triumph for bomb disposal support charity
Cycle ride Tour de Troops The Castles 2019 raised £8,264 for the Felix Fund, the charity which helps bomb disposal and search personnel and their families. Cyclists took on a mammoth 570-mile bike ride from Edinburgh to Cardiff. The ride took in three of the UK’s most significant castles.
For the second year running, defence and cyber security company L3 TRL Technology, based in Tewkesbury, was the lead sponsor. Richard Flitton, vice president and general manager of L3 TRL, says: “Our continued sponsorship of the Tour de Troops allows us to acknowledge the enormous sacrifices made, and risks taken, by bomb disposal and search personnel in order to keep us all from harm.” The company had a team of five cyclists who also took part in the challenge.
Anchor Vans, the UK’s largest commercial vehicle hypermarket, also supported the ride. Managing director Simon Joyce joined the cyclists and also provided support vehicles for the challenge.
This year, a special reception party greeted riders as they crossed the finishing line, and they enjoyed performances from the Welsh Male Voice Choir, plus a three-course dinner.
Motor finance team’s fundraising record
Close Brothers Motor Finance has exceeded last year’s fundraising record and raised a fantastic £33,500 for Make-A-Wish and Cancer Research UK. For this year’s Close Brothers Charity & Wellbeing Week employees took the opportunity to get active through a series of both individual and group fundraising events. Teams across the UK took part in a range of challenging fundraising activities including a “Walk into the Light” sponsored walk, a Peak District hike, bike rides, meditation sessions, and bake sales.
Regional branches were keen to help their own communities. The Scottish office took part in a beach clean-up. Sevenoaks made blood donations at their local drop-in centre, and teams across the UK organised foodbank collections. Sheffield, Stoke, and Wales all took the “step challenge” to heart by doing sponsored walks, and the Peterborough office alone racked up more than 500,000 steps. The Bury branch organised a Motor-wide hike of Hadrian’s Wall, raising over £2,400 in the process.
Teams also took the chance to rest and relax; the second office in Doncaster organised quizzes and competitions, meditation, and massages, while Manchester was visited by a fluffy labradoodle to help everyone de-stress. Individuals across the firm have gone the extra mile to raise money in inspirational ways. Martin Smith, an account manager in Belfast, battled through 5 triathlons in 5 days. With his help, the Northern Ireland team alone raised an impressive £5,000.
Meanwhile Glenn Matthews, head of operations, is taking on 10 different 10 kilometer races in 10 months and Rebecca McNeil, CEO, contributed hand-knitted hats for premature babies.
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