The latest Charity Commission news and updates as of June 2024.

New guidance on campaigning and political activity: general election lessons learned

Key issues and questions for charities to consider based on insights from our casework into campaigning and political activity during previous election periods.

Don’t allow disagreements to overshadow your charity’s positive work, says regulator

The Commission offers advice to all charities as it closes its case into the Actors’ Benevolent Fund.

The regulator encourages all charities to take steps to help avoid disputed trusteeship and to minimise the impact if these or significant disagreements should arise. It has also learned lessons itself as to how such cases should be handled in future.

Environmental responsibility for charities

How charities can improve their impact on the environment and be energy efficient.

The guidance covers some of the common issues connected with environmental responsibility. It includes information on when trustees need to contact the Charity Commission and when they can take decisions themselves.

New guidance for charities facing decisions about donations

The Regulator’s guidance makes clear that trustees should start from a position of accepting donations, but from time to time a charity may face a difficult decision as to whether to refuse or return a donation.

The Commission has set out an approach for trustees to take on these occasions, advising they:

  • consider the risks involved in refusing or returning the donation, and how likely and serious these are. These include negative financial impact, ability to deliver services and ability to attract donations in future.
  • Consider the risks involved in accepting or keeping the donation, and how likely and serious these are, These include the likelihood of reduced support or reputational harm, particularly among supporters or beneficiaries.
  • Determine how any decision aligns with their charity’s purposes.
  • Determine what steps they can take to mitigate the risks. These include negotiating the terms of a conditional donation with the donor or developing a public explanation for a decision.

Charity Commission launches five year strategy

The Commission has set out its core purpose and strategic priorities for 2024 – 2029.

Its five priorities are:

  • to be fair and proportionate in its work, and clear about its role;
  • to support charities to get it right, while taking robust action where it sees wrongdoing and harm;
  • to speak with authority and credibility, free from the influence of others;
  • to embrace technological innovation and strengthen its use of data;
  • to be an expert Commission where its people are empowered and enabled to deliver excellence in regulation.

Public Trust in charities and the role and experience of trustees

This report brings together the Commission’s findings into public perception of the charity sector and on how charity trustees undertake their vital roles and responsibilities so that their impact is felt by people and causes who need their help most.

The report notes that public trust in charities has been recovering and stabilising at a time where trust in other institutions has decreased.

Updated guidance for Exempt Charities

The Commission has updated its guidance for exempt charities (CC23).

Payment of Interest on Share Capital for Registered Societies

The Commission has updated its position in relation to Registered Societies (Co-operatives and Community Benefit Societies), and the payment of interest on share capital.

Display of trustee legal names on the charity register

How to apply to remove a trustee’s legal name from public display on the charity register in England and Wales (known as a dispensation).

Charity Commission announces next Chief Executive

David Holdsworth will take up the role on 1 July 2024.

Statutory Inquiries:

Regulator freezes bank accounts of Bristol charity after opening inquiry

The Commission opened an inquiry into We Care Foundation and will look into concerns around trustees’ decision-making and payments from the charity to its trustees and their related companies.

The inquiry will examine:

  • whether the trustees are complying with their legal duties.
  • failures by the charity’s trustee board to engage with the Commission including whether the trustees provided true and accurate information to the regulator at all times.
  • Any unauthorised connected-party payments and trustee personal benefits, including an examination of the charity’s contractual arrangements with third parties.
  • If any failings or weaknesses identified in the administration of the charity were a result of misconduct and/or mismanagement by the trustees.

Education charity investigated over serious financial concerns

The Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into the Abu Bakr Trust which runs schools in the West Midlands.

The inquiry will examine:

  • The trustees’ governance and management of the Trust, including their failure to ensure annual returns are filed on time.
  • The charity’s financial management, including its level of debt.
  • Whether the trustees have properly exercised their legal duties and responsibilities under charity law.
  • The extent of misconduct and/or mismanagement within the administration of the charity by its current and former trustees.

Regulator to investigate Al-Tawheed Charitable Trust over event held at its premises

The Charity Commission has opened an inquiry to investigate serious concerns over the misuse of charity premises.

The inquiry will examine the following regulatory issues:

  • The management and administration of the charity by its trustees.
  • The oversight and control by the charity’s trustees of the use of the charity’s properties by third parties.
  • The charity’s relationships with partners.

Regulator investigates anti-poverty charity

The Commission’s concerns include potential conflicts of interest and related party transactions at Big Help Project.

The inquiry will examine the following, including if:

  • Conflicts of interests and transactions with connected parties have been adequately identified and managed.
  • There has been any unauthorised trustee benefit;
  • Any misconduct and or mismanagement led to financial losses for the charity.
  • The charity has accurately accounted for its funds and assets in line with legal requirements.

Wider Sector Updates:

Almost two-thirds of people view door-to-door fundraising negatively, regulator finds

A survey of 3,000 people shows that half od respondents say they would be less likely to support charities after being contacted by a door-to-door fundraiser.

NCVO has published its latest Road Ahead Report

The report focuses on what the next 12 months has in store for charities in six areas: political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal.

Charities, subsidise public services by £2.4bn a year, says researchers

62% of charity leaders said their organisations uses money from other sources such as fundraising to deliver public services for which they have been contracted.

The true cost of delivering public services

A survey of charities in England.