How we work

Roald Dahl's Marvellous Childrens Charity

Frequently asked questions

Children with Marvellous certificates

Are you the Roald Dahl Foundation?

We are what used to be the Roald Dahl Foundation.

In 2010 the trustees of the Roald Dahl Foundation (an unincorporated Trust) decided that the most effective way to help more seriously ill children would be to create an incorporated charity.  

Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity was established as a registered charity. The charity took over the assets, liabilities and operations of the Roald Dahl Foundation.

How much is your annual income?

Between April 2012 and March 2013, the total income for Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity was £707,000.

Where does your income come from?

All of our income (except around £50,000 a year from investment income) is raised or donated by our marvellous supporters. 

We receive no government funding.

What support do you receive from the Dahl family?

Both Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity and our sister charity, the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, are generously supported by the Dahl family.

The Dahl family donate 10% of global author royalties via the Roald Dahl Charitable Trust to be shared between the two charities.

We are grateful for the all marvellous support from the Dahl family. This list is by no means exhaustive, but their ongoing support also includes; 

  • Gifts based on royalties from Revolting Recipes and Even More Revolting Recipes (created by our founder Felicity Dahl and illustrated by Sir Quentin Blake, both our Marvellous Presidents) and The Roald Dahl Cookbook by Roald and Felicity Dahl.
  • Proceeds from opera and orchestral music commissions based on Roald Dahl's work.
  • Theo and Maddie Dahl are two of our Marvellous Champions, who attend events as official ambassadors for the charity.

How do you spend your funds?

Between April 2012 and March 2013, we used £565,647 to directly help make life better for seriously ill children. The majority of our total expenditure (67%) was spent on charitable activities.

Our governance costs were 3%, including our audit fees. The remaining 30% was spent upon fundraising, communications and marketing.

How much of my donation will you use to help seriously ill children?

We will spend an average 67p in your donated £1, directly helping to make life better for seriously ill children.

What is your current overall financial plan?

Our financial plan for the charity in 2012-2013 was to use our reserves to invest in fundraising whilst keeping our charitable expenditure at a consistent or growing level. Our operating deficit was to be covered from our reserves.

In reality, our income exceeded what we budgeted for, and our expenditure was broadly on target. This left us with a smaller operating deficit than we expected.

In 2013-2014 we plan to clear the charity’s operating deficit but to artificially increase our accounting deficit. This means our expenditure will deliberately exceed our income. This is because we will invest an agreed level of our financial reserves on increased charitable activity (“draw down” our level of reserves). It will be used to kick-start our new strategy for 2013-2017.

What are your financial reserves?

Currently Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity holds around £1.4million in reserves.

Why do you have financial reserves?

It is important that we maintain an appropriate level of reserves. Our board of trustees has determined that, if all our sources of income were to fail, the charity must be able to look after itself for twelve months. Those twelve months would be used to continue our grant making and support costs whilst giving us time to find alternative funding.

Our aim is to maintain a level of reserves between twelve and thirteen months’ worth of operating income. Given our current level of income and plans for growth, a reserve level of around £1.1million is appropriate for us.

How do you invest your reserves?

The investment income we receive is an average of £50,000 a year. The majority of this investment income is drawn from interest on our original endowment as the Roald Dahl Foundation.

Our investment income is the only non-voluntary income the charity receives. Our investment income represents around 7% of the charity’s total income.

The trustees of Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity have appointed Schroder and Co. to manage the charity’s investment portfolio. The trustees review Schroder’s fees and performance annually.

The charity began a review of our existing investments policy in summer 2013. The charity’s investment policy is due to be finalized and approved by the board of trustees in spring 2014. It will be published here shortly afterwards.

How much do you pay your CEO?

Our CEO salary is less than £60,000 a year. The ratio between the highest and the lowest paid member of staff at the charity is 2.6 to 1.

All our staff salaries are benchmarked against small to medium charities in the south east of England. We aim to pay our staff at the midpoint of the benchmarked ranges.

Why don't you focus on children's literacy?

From 1991 to 2009, whilst we were the Roald Dahl Foundation, we helped children with brain and blood illnesses, and supported literacy too.

We made grants totalling £1.5million to help children and young people who needed extra help to achieve this essential basic skill.  Our grants funded many projects across the UK to improve literacy skills and support children with acquired brain injury or vision impairment to be able to access the written word.

We decided to move away from literacy after our sister charity the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre was established. They do great work inspiring imaginations, and encouraging reading and creative writing. We didn’t want to duplicate our efforts and resources.

Roald Dahl was an active supporter of the Readathon campaign in schools encouraging reading, and he was also the organisation’s first chairman. After he passed away in 1990 and the charity was set up in his memory in 1991, the Readathon campaign has supported our work ever since.

The Readathon campaign run by Read for Good has inspired millions of children to read over the past twenty years. It has also raised over £10 million to help Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity make life better for seriously ill and disabled children.

Both Roald Dahl charities (that's us and the Museum) benefit from global author royalties on all Roald Dahl's stories except the Vicar of Nibbleswicke. Roald Dahl was passionate about helping children affected by dyslexia. Both Sir Quentin Blake's and Roald Dahl's royalties for this title were gifted to another worthy cause, Dyslexia UK.

Roald Dahl is known internationally, so why is your charitable work UK focussed?

Financially we are a small charity trying to meet the high level of demand supporting seriously ill children in the UK. 

So for now, we plan to focus our resources upon helping children from birth to their 21st birthday across the UK. However, some of our programmes, in particular our nurse-led research, have and do bring global benefits.

If you are looking to support a marvellous charity working in international development, you may like to know that Roald Dahl’s daughter Ophelia Dahl is the co-founder and President of Partners In Health. Partners In Health is a global health organization committed to improving the health of poor and marginalized people.