Governance

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Check the Financial Information in Your Annual Return

The Charity Commission recently checked the accuracy of the annual return figures for 3 different sizes of charity, each sample having just over 100 organisations in them.

They found that:

  • 89% of charities with incomes over £25,000 reported accurate income and expenditure figures in their annual returns, compared with just over 60% for charities below the accounts filing threshold for most charities of £25,000
  • just over 80% of charities with incomes over £500,000 reported accurate income and/or expenditure analyses, compared with more than 95% for their balance sheet and charitable funds analyses

Input error (picking the wrong figures out of the accounts) appeared to be the most common reason for inaccurate annual return figures.

To avoid this happening make sure that a person who is familiar with the charity accounts checks the financial information you’ll submit in your annual return.

All the recent charity accounts monitoring reviews are available on their website.

Source: Charity Commission Newsletter


Safeguarding Duties for Trustees

Safeguarding is a key governance priority for all trustees, not just those working with groups traditionally considered at risk.

You should read the guidance about safeguarding duties for charity trustees.

We advise you to carry out a thorough review of your charity’s safeguarding governance and management arrangements and performance, if you haven’t done in the last 12 months.

It is also important that you contact us about any safeguarding issues, or serious safeguarding incidents, complaints or allegations which have not previously been reported to us.

Find more about what and how to report to the Charity Commission.

Source: Charity Commission Newsletter


The 5 Digital Skills To Look For In Your Next Trustee

A key maxim of the Charity Digital Code of Practice is that making the most of digital is not about tools and technical understanding anymore – it’s a governance mindset. Charity leaders need to be confident in how digital can help their charities achieve their goals if they want their organisations to be relevant and sustainable.

Charity Digital News grabbed Zoe Amar, non-profit digital guru and Chair of the Code, who explained the five digital skills that every charity’s trustees and boards should to be able to demonstrate.

1- An understanding of the changes that emerging technology brings

You’ve probably seen the headlines that one in five jobs could be disrupted by automation by 2030. It’s a startling figure and one that all kinds of organisations need to be prepared for, and understand what it will mean for traditional ways of operating.

“Trustees need a good understanding of how emerging technology could disrupt their charity’s business model,” says Amar. “We don’t quite know what this brave new world’s going to look like, but I think an optimistic scenario is that people are released from the burden of doing too much routine work and are actually able to focus on the aspects of the job they’re really passionate about.”

“So what does that mean about the sort of skills that you look for and train people for? Because what we also know about automation is that skills like lateral thinking and emotional intelligence are going to become absolutely paramount as that’s something that is going to be very hard for robots to do.”

2- Data-driven decision making

Handling and analysing data is a significant skills gap in a lot of organisations, according to the latest Charity Digital Skills Report, with 62% of charities rating themselves as fair to low in that area. Could charity trustees take the lead?

“I was talking to someone from a charity at a conference who had just developed a new website and their trustees had got absolutely fixated on one particular idea, assuming that beneficiaries will use the website in this way, but they didn’t have the data to back it up,” says Amar. “So the first thing a charity trustee must ask is the very simple question of ‘am I actually using data to make meaningful decisions?’”

“For example, when I say these things about how our stakeholders behave or what they want or need, can I point to the data which backs that up? Am I using data to stress test my assumptions about people? What’s it telling us and what’s it not telling us? That’s a sign that you’re really starting to think about the value of data to make decisions.”

To read the full Charity Digital News article click here.


What do you think? Your views needed on new EU exit information website

Leaving the EU means a number of changes that will affect organisations and individual citizens. The Government has developed a website gov.uk/euexit to give information on how to prepare and the steps organisations and individuals may need to take.

We are really keen to get some initial feedback on the quality and user-friendliness of the content. Please record your feedback in this two minute survey, your views on the website will influence any improvements, so a swift response would be appreciated. Please feel free to skip any questions that you do not feel apply to your organisation.

We are keen to hear from civil society organisations and those that work with them to make sure that the information on the website information reflects your needs.

Thank you for your support.

If you have any questions, please contact Ruth Verrall (ruth.verrall@cabinetoffice.gov.uk) at the Cabinet Office.


Recognising and Reporting Serious Incidents – Free Workshop

The Association of Chairs in partnership with the Charity Commission are holding a half day free workshop on recognising and reporting serious incidents – what you need to know.

The workshop will be held on Thursday 14th February 2019, 1.30pm at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, 6 Centenary Square, Birmingham, B1 2EP. Why not go along to test your knowledge about fraud and safeguarding and to learn how to recognise when an incident is serious and what you must do to report it.

The aim of the workshop is to provide an opportunity to hear about the way in which the Charity Commission views serious incidents and how they handle the reports which are made to them. This is about helping you understand the reasons for reporting a serious incident in your charity.

Whilst the circumstances of incidents vary in type and in the impact they have, Chairs and trustees can work to limit the likelihood of an incident happening and to minimise the impact on the charity when they do.

They will take a closer look at fraud and safeguarding as these are areas where serious incidents are most common.

Representatives of the Charity Commission will talk to us about their approach to these issues and lead group discussions on the issues.

To book your place or for more information click here.

See also: Reporting and avoiding serious incidents – blog post.

Source: Association of Chairs


Updated Guide to Claiming Gift Aid

HMRC have updated their guide to claiming Gift Aid. The guide aims to clearly show charities how to claim tax back on eligible donations, use the right software, complete the schedule, and fill in the form. The guide also features a brand new section about getting the right software to open a schedule spreadsheet.

View the updated guidance by clicking here.

Source: FSI


Charities Not Embracing Digital Identity Checking – Report

Charities are reluctant to use digital technology to improve their ‘weak’ systems for checking the identity of staff, volunteers and service users, according to a study.

The study by digital identity app Yoti found that awareness of digital identity technology among UK charities is low.

Many do not see it as relevant, even though checking the identity of staff, volunteers and services users is a vital part of their work.

A particular concern raised is a reluctance to use digital identification among charities that need to carry out criminal records checks through the Disclosure and Barring Service. This is despite many admitting that their existing systems of checking are poor.

“The need for digital identity solutions were most apparent to those verifying the legal identity of beneficiaries or undertaking DBS checks regularly for staff and volunteers,” states the study.

It adds: “Many of the charities checking legal identity recognised that their processes here were weak but very few were exploring digital identity solutions, or even saw them as an organisational priority.”

Instead of prioritising digital identification much of charities’ technology focus is on fundraising, developing a digital strategy, digital transformation, training and using technology to improve face to face contact with beneficiaries.

Lack of skills a barrier

Many see their lack of knowledge and skills as a barrier to putting in place digital identification.

“They felt that their internal systems were too complicated to change and that digital identity solutions were too advanced to integrate with their current technology. They were also concerned about staff skills, connectivity and their own access to technology,” states the study.

Lack of time and capacity as well as staff costs were other barriers to putting in place digital identification systems among charities.

Research took place between August and October and involved 33 charitable organisations, four digital agencies and 11 support sector organisations across the UK.

The findings from the research are being added to Yoti’s onging social impact strategy, which is looking at the challenges faced in the not for profit sector around identity checks.

Source: Charity Digital News


Recognising and Reporting Serious Incidents – What You Need to Know

Recognising and Reporting Serious Incidents – What You Need to Know. This joint event with the Charity Commission is being held on Thursday 14th February 2019, from 1.30pm – 6:00 pm Birmingham Repertory Theatre, 6 Centenary Square, Birmingham, B1 2EP.

The aim of the workshop is to provide an opportunity to hear about the way in which the Charity Commission views serious incidents and how they handle the reports which are made to them. This is about helping you understand the reasons for reporting a serious incident in your charity. Whilst the circumstances of incidents vary in type and in the impact they have, Chairs and trustees can work to limit the likelihood of an incident happening and to minimise the impact on the charity when they do. We will take a closer look at fraud and safeguarding as these are areas where serious incidents are most common. Representatives of the Charity Commission will talk to us about their approach to these issues and lead group discussions on the issues.

Timings for the event are:

  • 1.30 pm- Registration and refreshments
  • 2:00 pm – Start
  • 5:00 pm – Drinks reception and networking
  • 6:00 pm – Close

This event is open to Chairs and Vice Chairs although priority for places is given to our members. It is a free event.

Why not become a member of The Association of Chairs and get early priority booking as well as additional membership benefits such as copies of their guides? You can join if you are a Chair or Vice Chair of a charity or non-profit organisation (see full eligibility criteria). It costs just £50 for those from organisations with incomes under £5 million and £100 if your organisation’s income is over £5 million.

For more information or to book your place click here.

Source: Association of Chairs


Digital Resources for Charities

Want to give your charity a digital makeover in 2019, skill up your staff or start a new digital-based project? The internet is a gold mine of charity-specific information, digital guidance, digital training for charities, digital volunteers and expertise to draw on, if you know where to look.

Charity Digital News has gathered the best free and low-cost digital resources for charities to boost their digital know-how and connect with others in the digital space.

1 – The Charity Digital Code of Practice

Number one on our list, the Charity Digital Code of Practice draws from the collaborative expertise of a large number of organisations including Tech Trust, ACEVO, CAST, the NCVO and the Charity Commission.

If you haven’t taken some time out to digest this resource yet, we recommend making this your end-of-2018 resolution. It should be on the required reading list for all charity trustees, CEOs and anyone with an interest in being successful with digital.

2 – CAST – Digital design principles

Most effective when read in conjunction with the Code, The Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology (CAST)’s Digital Design Principles includes guidance and case studies for charities to design better digital services.

3 – Small Charities Coalition

The Small Charities Coalition  catalogues a range of useful resources on its website from tools, templates and guides to services and commercial partners, on a wide number of topics aimed at helping charities increase their impact.

The Coalition also hosts webinars and training events, some of which focus on digital topics such as digital media, regulation and online fundraising.

4 – Skills Platform

Skills Platform links charities up with training providers and offers e-learning bundles on a range of charity-specific topics such as health and care, but also workplace development such as data governance and project management, all designed to be affordable for charities.

It also produces some useful free resources such as the Charity Digital Toolkit and toolkits for social media.

5 – Charity IT Association

The Charity IT Association (CITA) is a specialist IT consultancy for charities (and a registered charity itself) that provides advice and recommendations on a volunteer basis, whether about your current IT set-up or a project you want to deliver.

6 – NCVO, Knowhow Nonprofit

We recommend NCVO’s Knowhow Nonprofit website for how-to guides and e-learning on a wide range of governance and funding topics, including risk management and measuring your digital skills. Its free benchmarking and analysis tools are also worth a look.

Register as a NCVO member to access the more in-depth members-only free training.

To read the full Charity Digital News article click here.


How to Increase Trustee Engagement

Your board ultimately make all the key decisions, but every board is a collection of individuals, with differing motivations, abilities and time they can give. Moreover, they may not be around very often and, if you don’t attend meetings, you may see them rarely. This resource from the free Charity Excellence Framework provides a range of ways in which you can increase their engagement.

Start at the beginning – recruiting
Some trustees see their role as turning up to 4 meetings a year, but good trustees do a lot more than that, so ensure you recruit good ones. Recruiting is a challenge, so here’s an article on how to do it well, with links to resources and organisations who will help you.

Make expectations clear in your adverts and during the recruitment process. That’s not about being demanding, but being open and honest with people about what you’re asking them to do. When interviewing, always ask how he/she feels they could best contribute, so you can make sure that how you engage with them, works for them and you.

Then build on that – induction
Include in your induction form/notes, space to complete details of their networks and also how to join your social media platforms.

Most will meet the CEO, but they should also be introduced to the wider team to build a relationship from the outset. If they bring expertise in a particular area, such as finance or marketing, ensure they meet that specific team.

And, that they receive your events/activities diary, so they can come along, if they wish to.

To read the full Linkedin article click here.


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