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Charity Update – Hot Topics

When working in a charity it is important to ensure you are kept abreast of the latest news regarding legislation, accounting and how charities are to be run. Over the next couple of weeks we will be publishing blogs to update on all of the latest charity news. This week we will cover three hot topics currently in the charity sector.

Oxfam and the implications for all charities

One of the most widely publicised charity scandals of recent years involved Oxfam and the conduct of some aid workers. In June 2019 CCEW published the results of its inquiry into Oxfam which raises a number of issues that all charities can learn from.

The inquiry provides a timely reminder that trustees are collectively responsible for their charity and are ultimately accountable for everything done by that charity and its representatives. Trustees must understand the risks to their charity and ensure that they are properly managed, recognising the higher the risk, the greater the level of oversight required. Where a charity is large enough to employ a management team the trustees must be willing to hold the executives to account.

Protecting all those who come into contact with the charity and safeguarding responsibilities should be a governance priority for all charities, as a fundamental and integral part of operating as a charity for the public benefit. The complexity of a charity’s operations or the importance of the cause, cannot be used as an excuse for a failure to ensure that all reasonable steps to protect people are adopted.

To be effective, trustee boards must recognise that they need to lead by example, establishing the charity’s values, setting the standards, exhibiting behaviours that reflect those values, and by expecting anyone representing the charity to do the same. By implementing a culture that prioritises the need to keep people safe, charities can hope to deter and tackle unacceptable behaviour. Such a culture recognises the need for transparency when things go wrong, and that there are consequences for anyone whose conduct falls short of what is expected of them, regardless of how senior they are. Handling incidents which cause harm to people properly, reporting them and ensuring that lessons are learned and acted upon will protect the reputation of the charity in the long term by providing assurance to stakeholders that the charity acts with integrity.

Revitalising trusts programme

Many charities can find themselves in the enviable position of having excessive reserves, but this can be an indication that they are struggling to fully utilise their resources in carrying out their charitable objectives. CCEW has joined forces with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the UK Community Foundations to form the Revitalising Trusts programme that seeks to help charities that find it difficult to spend their income on the public benefit.

Help is available from the programme for charities that find it hard to identify beneficiaries, spend their income, or struggle to recruit new trustees and find the time to run the charity. The solution could be to change to the objectives of the charity to enable it to work more effectively, or ultimately to close down the charity and transfer its assets to an alternative charity. To find out more click here.

Publication of charity trustee names

From 1 April 2020 the names of all charity trustees will be displayed on the CCEW website. As trustees have a responsibility for the management and administration of their charity, this move is seen as a way of ensuring that they remain accountable to the public.

Some trustees may feel that publication of their name may endanger their physical or mental safety, and are able to apply for a dispensation from having the details published. Applications for a dispensation should be made to CCEW setting the reasons why publication of their name could place them in danger. Once granted dispensations will be reviewed every five years. To find out more click here.


For more information on the services we provide to support charities please click here.

Nicola Fox



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