From celebrity favourite to untouchable brand: What the downfall of Kids Company could mean for other charities

Kids Company founder Camila Batmanghelidjh Credit: Reuters

The reported imminent collapse of Kids Company could be a turning point for charities in this country.

It shows that without better scrutiny, today's fashionable celebrity cause can overnight become tomorrow's untouchable brand.

For as well as being a tragedy for the children it helped, and for the staff and supporters who believed in it, the affair has revealed a patchy oversight of charities and how celebrity-driven endorsement can obscure clear thinking about proof of outcomes.

The ink is scarcely dry on two separate reports - one from the Centre for Social Justice and one from the LSE - heaping praise on Kids Company.

Both organisations need to come out in support of the charity now, or accept with red faces, they got it wrong.

Prince Charles speaking at a Kids Company fundraisinf dinner in 200 Credit: PA

For Kids Company is fast becoming a charity no one wants to touch.

Supporters ask what has changed? Critics claim the Emperor was able to convince even those seeking to reveal its nakedness.

Whatever the truth, the affair leaves some very well-intentioned and very rich donors burnt and if they will now close up their wallets, possibly for good, there will be dire consequences for others in the sector.

With London now the base of many millionaires - even billionaires - philanthropy has taken on a more serious side in recent times.

Sums can be very large and those giving require impact reports, sophisticated business plans and reassurances about how their money is being spent supporting a sustainable project, not just vague promises about how that their gifts are firefighting a good cause

Founder Camila Batmanghelidjh claims that she has been the target of a smear campaign and actively briefed against because of her outspoken criticism of the existing child protection system.

Camila Batmanghelidjh Credit: PA

She is clearly heartbroken. The lesson she has learnt, she told me, is that she has tried to lead a service delivery operation and campaign for change at the same time. She feels punished for her efforts.

Her critics say financial mismanagement at the charity and now the allegations of sexual exploitation within it, have damaged the brand beyond repair.

Either way it is a cautionary tale of our times and a tragedy.

It shows that as charities grow in ambition and reach they operate in a capricious sector which lacks the structural oversight to keep track of them - and prevent such a tragic end to such a well-intentioned enterprise.

Penny Marshall is a trustee of TBAP Foundation, a charity which helps children excluded from school, and a former patron of the Aurora charity for survivors of sexual abuse in childhood.

Read: Kids Company trustees and Charity Commission should remember it takes two to tango