Friday, 23 June 2017

Charity Commission Compliance, Monitoring and Investigation - latest stats published

The Charity Commission has just published its latest set of statistics analysing its casework. The analysis is broken down according to the information supplied by charities on their annual returns - such as their purpose, beneficiaries, income and years on the register.

This seems to be done primarily as a monitoring process to check that the Commission is being even handed in its casework across the whole gamut of the charity sector.

The present and past statistics can be found on the Commissions site here.

They give some interesting insight into the problems that charities encounter, from failure to comply with statutory reporting duties (some 1172 cases opened in the last year) to more serious breaches of charity law calling forth monitoring (435 cases) or full blown investigations (187 cases).

From the statistics it appears that older charities are more prone to have problems than newer ones - with 64% of the compliance issues and 33% of the monitoring cases being related to charities over ten years old - perhaps a reflection upon 'we have always done it this way' not necessarily being the 'right way'....

The size of a charity seems to have less impact than its age. Though charities with incomes over £500k make up 42% of the compliance cases, there is a fairly equal spread across the other casework categories, Small charities, with turnovers under £25k, which you would perhaps expect to be well represented due to capacity issues in meeting the regularity requirement, form less than a fifth of compliance and less then a tenth of investigation cases, though they do form a quarter of all monitoring cases.

But perhaps what the statistics most suggest is that all charities, serving all types of beneficiaries and working in all different sectors are prone to experience difficulties in complying with charity law at some point. This is nothing to be ashamed off, as long as the problem that caused it is addressed to prevent non compliance turning into monitoring and a full blown inquiry that carries sanction.



Meet the Charity Commission

The Charity Commission is holding its next public meeting on the 29th June 2017 at the Cardiff City Stadium.
William Shawcross (Chairman) and Eryl Besse (Deputy Chairman) will be there to open the meeting, which will include a presentation from the Chief Operating Officer, David Holdsworth, on the digital transformation of the Commission. 
The meeting will focus on guiding trustees and their charities through data and digital challenges, will provide updates on key guidance for trustees, and will highlight important lessons arising from the Commission's casework. 
The event is free of charge and charity trustees, employees and advisers are urged to attend.
You can register to attend through Eventbrite
Places are limited and will be allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis and are limited to 2 attendees per organisation
For more details see the Commission's website here.

Monday, 19 June 2017

KNIGHTON OUTREACH 27-6-2017

We will be coming to Knighton on:

Tuesday 27th June 2017
10.30 am - 2 pm
Knighton Community Support Offices

Appointments must be booked by phoning 01597 822191.

Hope to see you there.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Introducing PAVO's new Thriving Third Sector Development Officer.

Following the departure of Sally Yigit from PAVO at the beginning of April, a new officer has been appointed to deliver the Thriving Third Sector programme, which aims to assist voluntary organisations across Powys tackle issues of governance and sustainability.

The new post holder is Nick Venti, who has worked extensively in the Third Sector in Powys over the past fourteen years, both as a project officer on a number of community projects and as a trustee and director of local charities and third sector organisations.

 

Nick's role is primarily to facilitate a process of organisational review. This can mean looking at how an organisation functions against its governing document or the make up and sustainability of the trustee board. Does the need for which the organisation was originally set up still exist - or has it achieved its aim or been diverted away from delivering against its primary purpose? It can mean looking at the financial arrangements of the organisation to ensure that it has strategies in place to meet its costs. Or it could be a case of preparing an organisation for new challenges, such as taking on the delivery of new services, or the running of a community asset.

Whatever the potential challenges facing an organisation, the project aims to provide proactive help that will allow trustees and directors see their way to managed solutions, preferably before real problems develop.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of your organisations governance or sustainability, or are simple interested in taking an organisational health check, then contacting Nick is a good place to start.

He can be reached on 01686 626 220 or via e-mail at: nick.venti@pavo.org.uk


Wednesday, 14 June 2017

RSPCA - no charity is too big to get into trouble

Following the loss of their chief executive officer last week, the RSPCA is coming under fire from the Charity Commission, which is warning the charity that it needs to urgently improve its governance or face regulatory action.

The full story of what is happening at one of Britain's biggest charities can be found at Civil Society News, but in short it is clear that the governance of the organisation is falling below expected standards.

It appears that the charity have been trying to grapple with its problems, having recently commissioned a review in order 'to ensure that the governance structure is fit for purpose and best placed to face the challenges of the future.'

The review, undertaken on behalf of the society by Crowe Clarke Whitehall LLP, has some interesting conclusions that throw light on the difficulties all organisations experience in managing change.

  • The Society is facing much change and with any change effort there are often many sensitivities and tensions to be aware of. 
  • It is clear from those we interviewed and spoke to that this Governance Review has generated high expectations and perhaps some nervousness.
  • There is a perception that there has been little constructive action and poor follow through on past initiatives.
  • Individuals must be ready to do this (draw a line under the perceived problems of the past) and move on, focusing on building the “modern governance structure”. 
  • This requires people to look forward rather than at the past and to put aside the issues of the past. 
  • The tone at the top is very important and if the Society is to really benefit from this review Council must work together cohesively and accept differences of opinion, build trust and respect amongst its members and with management.

In conducting the review, the consultants engaged with the Society's Trustees around the Hallmarks of an Effective Charity, the Charity Commission guidance that 'sets out the standards that will help trustees to improve the effectiveness of their charity.

The six hallmarks are:

  1. Clear about its purposes and direction - An effective charity is clear about its purposes, mission and values and uses them to direct all aspects of its work.
  2.  A strong board - An effective charity is run by a clearly identifiable board or trustee body that has the right balance of skills and experience, acts in the best interests of the charity and its beneficiaries, understands its responsibilities and has systems in place to exercise them properly.
  3. Fit for purpose - The structure, policies and procedures of an effective charity enable it to achieve its purposes and mission and deliver its services efficiently.
  4. Learning and improving - An effective charity is always seeking to improve its performance and efficiency, and to learn new and better ways of delivering its purposes. A charity’s assessment of its performance, and of the impact and outcomes of its work, will feed into its planning processes and will influence its future direction.
  5. Financially sound and prudent - An effective charity has the financial and other resources needed to deliver its purposes and mission, and controls and uses them so as to achieve its potential.
  6. Accountable and transparent - An effective charity is accountable to the public and others with an interest in the charity in a way that is transparent and understandable.

The Society's Trustees and senior leadership team were asked to score the Society against the Hallmarks, and this was followed up by a survey of the Society's membership who were asked to score their perceptions of the charities performance against key assertions from the Hallmarks.

The importance of having yardsticks or 'Hallmarks' against which to self assess performance is clear. and PAVO has developed its own organisational 'Health Check' - the Here and Now tool - which can provide a focus for reflection around organisational governance, finance, planning,strategy and communications.

The moral of this story is that all organisations - whatever their size - are well advised to reflect on their performance, and preferably before the wheels start coming off the waggon...

If you would like to talk to PAVO about undertaking the Here and Now tool within your organisation, contact our development team on 01597 822 191

Friday, 2 June 2017

A well run charity does not need to build up large reserves – it needs to manage its strategic risks well.

Whenever a charity fails, there are comments that the reserves were inadequate. Measures often relate the level of reserves to the income of the charity. But this is based on the false premise that reserve levels should be based on a formula, whereas the reserves policy should be based on the risks facing the charity.

Click here to read the entire article

Charities spend too little on necessary support for staff

Spend on need, not perception


"Trustees and management have often shied away from making investment decisions because they believe that it will impact negatively on how they are perceived," the report says. “This is due to the misleading belief that charities can be measured and compared by looking at their expenditure and the income raised.
“This belief has resulted in underinvestment in vital areas such as information technology, skills training, income generating processes and governance and management. Charities are also to blame by perpetuating the myth that reduced overheads mean the charity is more effective. This leads to a vicious cycle of underinvestment and this can actually lead to a deterioration in a charity’s performance.
"Charities should be ready to make the necessary investment in infrastructure based on what is needed rather than how it may be perceived."


Friday, 12 May 2017

Charity Commission signs memorandum of understanding with Big Lottery Fund

The Commission said that the agreement is intended to “promote effective working and communication between the Commission and the Big Lottery Fund” and “promote cooperation” at a strategic and operational level. It aims to “facilitate effective investigation and disclosure of information to prevent, detect and remedy misconduct or mismanagement in the administration of charities or charitable funds”. - Click here for more information

Friday, 7 April 2017

The Select Committee report: what was said and what comes next

Stronger charities for a stronger society

The Select Committee on Charities has published its report into charity pressures. David Cook, WCVA Policy Officer, examines some of the recommendations and looks at the input the sector had into the report


(Source: WCVA)

HEADING FOR THE BREXIT DOOR

Last week was a momentous one as the UK triggered Article 50, published a Great Repeal Bill White Paper, and the EU responded with an outline of negotiating priorities. What does this mean for the sector, and what should it be doing to respond? Trigger happy?
The UK triggered the once-obscure Article 50 clause in the same week that the rest of the EU celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which laid the foundations for ‘an ever-closer union among the peoples of Europe’. While the mood in Brussels was funereal, the public feeling in the UK is more divided than ever. According to Britain Thinks, there now appear to be four prevailing outlooks on Brexit: the die-hards, cautious optimists, accepting pragmatists, and devastated pessimists. We need as many people as possible in the middle two categories, and that goes for decision makers, as well as those seeking to influence decision makers.

Time is of the essence

The future is uncertain, and the scale of change will be dictated by the outcome of the UK-EU negotiations. A close trading relationship (that is looking more likely than it was) might result in relatively few dramatic changes, whereas no trade deal threatens to wreak havoc on the UK’s trade and regulatory landscape, with almost  no sector left unscathed. The clock is ticking for organisations to get to grips with how different Brexit scenarios might affect them, and for them to affect Brexit. To help our members prepare, we will be developing a ‘Brexit Planner’, so they ask themselves the right questions and can respond accordingly.
Notwithstanding a possible extension to flesh out the details and a likely implementation phase, organisations should work to the assumption that most key decisions will be made before ‘Brexit day’ on 30 March 2019. Moreover, due to events such as the French and German elections, most of the substantive negotiations will take place in a small window of opportunity between autumn 2017 and autumn 2018. This is also the window of opportunity for the voluntary sector to be influencing those negotiations.

Extinguishing regulatory bonfires

Many of our most important laws are currently derived from the EU, from employment rights to the protection of rare wildlife.  These laws, often hard won by our members, are under attack by those who are ideologically opposed to regulation. They claim that regulation is a block on economic growth, and see Brexit as an opportunity to weaken or remove huge swathes of it. Not only does this fail to recognise the social and environmental benefits of regulation – from clean beaches to employment rights – it misunderstands the economic impacts of regulation. Taking environmental regulation as just one example, research from the London School of Economics shows that it makes only a small difference to productivity, only marginally affects international competitiveness, and crucially – the benefits vastly outweigh any costs.
It’s the government’s intention to transfer as much EU law into UK law as possible following Brexit, and this should be welcomed. Given the huge volume of EU law that will need to be converted, ministers will need to make technical changes (eg removing references to the EU) during this process, using ‘delegated powers’ that allow them to make changes without full parliamentary oversight. However, it’s crucial that the ‘great repeal bill’ (its actual name is likely to be more prosaic) does not allow the government to make material changes to legislation without parliamentary oversight.  So we welcome the government’s commitments in the great repeal bill white paper that ministers will only use delegated powers to make technical changes. But what constitutes ‘technical’ is open to interpretation and civil society will need to be hyper-vigilant to ensure that material changes are not made via delegated powers. Indeed, some organisations are already making lists of the technical amendments that would be necessary to convert EU law into UK law, so they can react quickly to any unnecessary changes that overstep the mark.
Irrespective of which, the government would be wise not to attempt to weaken regulation in the first place. There appears to be little public appetite for a regulatory bonfire, and a recent survey of Conservative supporters found that the vast majority wanted to strengthen or maintain environmental regulations after Brexit. More importantly, the draft EU negotiating guidelines are clear that the EU will not sign a trade deal with the UK if it ‘dumps’ stringent regulations in favour of lax ones. The position of the EU will largely determine the outcome of the negotiations and I would urge organisations to use continental networks, as we will be doing, to influence that side of the table.
In response to the EU’s negotiating guidelines, the prime minister was quick to say that the UK would maintain regulatory equivalence with the EU, thereby enabling a ‘fair and open trading environment’. These are welcome words, and the sector must hold the government to them. A failure to do so would put people, the environment and the economy at considerable risk.

(Source: NCVO)

Commission freezes One Direction-backed charity’s bank account

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry and frozen the bank account of an organisation that supports terminally ill children. 

The regulator announced today it has begun an investigation into Believe in Magic, for which pop group One Direction has raised over £5m, following “indications of misconduct or mismanagement”


(Source: Civil Society News)

Lord Grade writes to 11 charities to ask for ‘remedial action plans’

The chair of the Fundraising Regulator will ask all the charities fined by the Information Commissioner's Office to explain what happened and what "remedial steps they have taken"

See more at - https://www.civilsociety.co.uk/news/lord-grade-writes-to-11-charities-for-action-plans.html

(Source: Civil Society News)

Charities apologise after ICO fines

One of the the 11 charities named and fined by the Information Commissioner’s Office have said they are considering an appeal but the other ten have all accepted the ruling.  



(Source: Civil Society News)

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Charity Commission opens compliance cases into 11 charities fined by ICO

The Charity Commission has opened compliance cases into the 11 charities who have been fined today for data protection breaches by the Information Commissioner’s Office.
The 11 charities were fined earlier today by the ICO for numerous breaches in data protection law, including the use of wealth screening and tele-appending of personal data.
In a statement, the Commission said that the compliance cases will look at whether the trustees of each charity “have acted in accordance with their duties under charity law”.
Under its recently issued CC20 guidance, the charity watchdog said that trustees of fundraising charities need to “understand and comply with the relevant data protections laws and requirements”, which the ICO has found each of these charities were in breach of.
A spokesman for the Charity Commission said that given the “serious nature of the breaches discovered by another regulator”, the commission was right to open compliance cases into the 11 charities.
He said that the Charity Commission had also opened compliance cases into both the RSPCA and BHF, after both charities were issued with fines by the ICO in December 2016.
The commission said it “has met with all 11 charities who acted properly in reporting the ICO investigations and notice of financial penalties” and said all are cooperating with the regulator on its compliance cases.

‘Charities must learn the lessons from these breaches’

David Holdsworth, chief operating officer at the Charity Commission, said the charitable sector as a whole must learn from these further ICO fines and breaches of data protection law.
Holdsworth said: “It is regrettable that further charities have been found in contravention of data protection requirements in this way. Charities must learn the lessons from these fines and breaches.
“The generous British public expect charities to safeguard their data and raise funds responsibly, and in return they donate in their millions. Sadly in these cases charities have not kept their side of the bargain.
“We are working with the charities concerned, the Information Commissioner and the Fundraising Regulator to ensure that any necessary remedial action is taken.”
“The charities were investigated by the ICO as part of a wider operation into data protection practices. There are no other outstanding investigations into charities as part of that operation.
The Charity Commission continues to work with the ICO and the Fundraising Regulator to ensure the wider lessons from these cases are shared, and charities are meeting their responsibilities to protect donors’ personal data.”
- See more at: https://www.civilsociety.co.uk/news/charity-commission-opens-compliance-cases-into-11-charities-fined-by-ico.html?utm_source=Civil+Society+News+List&utm_campaign=0ea5a8392c-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_04_05&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_26f393b813-0ea5a8392c-86528969#sthash.hmHp6tYW.dpuf

Swyddi! Jobs!

Mae Cymdeithas Mudiadau Gwirfoddol Powys yn awyddus i benodi i’r swyddi canlynol:
Swyddog Datblygu – Trydydd Sector Llewyrchus
35 awr yr wythnos
Cyflog: £25,694 yf
Lleolir y swydd yn Llandrindod neu’r Drenewydd
Cyllidir y prosiect hyd at fis Awst 2019
Bydd deiliad y swydd yn gweithio’n agos gyda sefydliadau’r trydydd sector i gynnig cymorth
dwys ar ddulliau llywodraethu da.
Swyddog Gwirfoddoli Sgiliau Trydydd Secotr
35 awr yr wythnos
Cyflog:£24,694 yf
Lleolir y swydd yn Llandrindod neu’r Drenewydd
Cyllidir y prosiect hyd at fis Ebrill 2020
Bydd deilydd y swydd yn adnabod angen, sefydlu platfform ar lein a recriwtio a lleoli ymddiriedolwyr ar draws Powys
Dyddiad cau i dderbyn ceisiadau: Ebrill 7
Cynhelir cyfweliadau ar gyfer y swydd ar Ebrill 26/27
Mae pecynnau cais ar gyfer y ddwy swydd ar gael trwy wefan PAVO:
http://www.pavo.org.uk/home/current-vacancies.html
neu drwy e-bostio: info@pavo.org.uk neu ffonio: 01597 822191

Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations has the following vacancies:
Development Officer Thriving Third Sector
35 Hours per week
Salary 25,694 pa
Based in Llandrindod Wells or Newtown
The project is funded until August 2019
The post holder will work closely with third sector organisations to provide intensive support on good governance
Third Sector Skills Volunteer Officer
35 Hours per week
Salary £24,694 pa
Based in Llandrindod Wells or Newtown
The project is funded until April 2020
The post holder will identify need, set up an online platform and recruit and place trustees across Powys
The closing date for applications is: April 7
Interviews for the posts will be held April 26/27
Application packs are available for both posts from the PAVO website:
http://www.pavo.org.uk/home/current-vacancies.html
or info@pavo.org.uk tel:01597 822191


Funding available to Welsh charities too !

Applications Open For Round Two Of Transform Foundation’s Charity Website Grant Programme

The ‘Q2’ round of the Transform Foundation’s 2017 Charity Website Grant Programme is officially open. Once again, this unique programme will be providing £18,000 grants to charities to fund the redevelopment of their websites in order to:

  • increase their ability to raise funds
  • more effectively serve their beneficiaries
  • raise broader awareness of their cause
If you’re a charity interested in redeveloping your website then click here to be taken to the Transform Foundation website for more information on the grant programme and how you can apply.

The 2017 Website Grant Programme funding round follows a highly successful pilot in 2016, which resulted in websites that collectively went on to raise over £1.3m online for the successful applicants.

The grant is principally aimed at charities with annual incomes between £350k and £30m, although smaller charities with ambitious plans for digital can also apply. Larger charities will also be considered for specific project or fundraising sites.

Any type of non-profit organisation may apply, with successful applicants in the past including causes as diverse as community development, disability, education, theatre, mental health, hospices, national heritage, volunteering, family, children & youth, addiction, homelessness, international aid, and arts.

To apply for the grant or to find out more details, visit the Website Grant Programme section of the Transform Foundation website.


One last thing! The Charity Website Grant Programme is just one of many programmes the Transform Foundation is running this year.

Other projects include the Facebook Advertising Grant, which provides £5k grants to charities to fund Facebook Advertising campaigns, and the Digital Skills Timebank that co-ordinates corporate volunteer time and matches it to digital projects for charities. The Transform Foundation is also running a programme of educational events and white papers to share digital best practice in the charity sector. These programmes form part of its wider efforts to help the charity sector transition from traditional forms of fundraising and service delivery towards more digitally focused models.

Charity Commission welcomes renewed court victory over safeguarding investigation

Commission welcomes judgement in Upper Tribunal

The Charity Commission has welcomed an Upper Tribunal judgment dismissing an appeal against its decision to investigate a charity over safeguarding concerns.
The regulator placed Manchester New Moston Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses (charity number 1065201 - ‘the charity’) under inquiry in May 2014 to investigate concerns about the charity’s approach to safeguarding.
The charity applied to the First-tier Tribunal (‘FTT’) for a review of the regulator’s decision on various grounds, including that the decision interfered with the congregation’s human rights and amounted to discrimination on the grounds of religion. The FTT upheld the Commission’s decision to open the inquiry in April 2015. The charity then appealed the FTT’s decisions to the Upper Tribunal (see endnotes).
These appeals have now been dismissed by the Upper Tribunal. The judge hearing the case, Mrs Justice Asplin, concluded that the FTT “was entitled to decide that there was no direct discrimination on the grounds of religion, the inquiry having been opened on the basis of unusual and distinctive factual reasons and […] that there were no other comparable cases from which to infer discrimination on the grounds of religious beliefs”.

Chris Willis Pickup, Head of Litigation at the Charity Commission says:

"This judgment confirms that the Commission acted lawfully in opening the investigation, and rejects claims that the Commission’s actions discriminated against the charity because of its religion. We regret that public and charity funds have been used on this protracted litigation, but we will continue to defend robustly our legitimate role in investigating serious concerns about charities. We hope and expect that this judgment concludes the litigation on this matter and allows us, and the charity, to focus our efforts on concluding the Commission’s inquiry."
The Charity Commission has continued to progress its investigation while the tribunal action was underway and aims to conclude and publish a report of the inquiry shortly.
(Source: The Charity Commission)