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Charity Fundraising: A Guide to Trustee Duties

cc20Many charities need to ask the public for money. They rely on public generosity – an enduring feature of our society, but one that can never be taken for granted – to carry out their important work helping those in need. In return the public place their trust in charities to raise money in a considerate and responsible way and to use it effectively.

Charity trustees have overall responsibility and accountability for their charity and this includes its fundraising. They have a key role to play in setting their charity’s approach to raising funds, making sure that it is followed in practice and reflects their charity’s values. Getting this right can be very rewarding, a valuable and visible result of trustees’ commitment to their charity, those that it supports and those that support it.

The Charity Commission, as the regulator of charities in England and Wales, the commission expects charities that fundraise to do so in a way which protects their charity’s reputation and encourages public trust and confidence in their charity. This includes following the law and recognised standards, protecting charities from undue risk, and showing respect for donors, supporters and the public.

The commission recognises the commitment required of trustees and the challenges they can face in getting fundraising right. It has updated this guidance to support them in discharging their responsibilities.

The purpose of Charity Commissions ‘Charity Fundraising: A Guide to Trustee Duties’ is to help trustees comply with their legal trustee duties when overseeing their charity’s fundraising. It sets out 6 principles to help them achieve this which are summarised in Section 3 of the Guidance.

It focuses primarily on matters within the commission’s regulatory remit. It is not a guide to the wide range of laws and regulations that apply to specific types and aspects of fundraising, but it provides links to sources of information about these rules.

In addition to this guidance an accompanying checklist has been produced, which consists of a series of questions to help trustees evaluate the performance of their charity against the advice in this guidance. The checklist should be read in conjunction with the guidance. It can be used to identify those sections that are relevant to a particular charity.

The guidance also explains what the commission does to regulate fundraising by charities and how this links to the system of self-regulation of fundraising activity.

To obtain your free Charity Fundraising Guide please click here.

HMRC Webinar on Employer Support – The Basics

HMRCHave you taken on an employee and want to know where to start?

During October HMRC is offering a range of employer webinars starting right here with the basics of Pay As You Earn (PAYE).

Getting started as an employer
What you need to know – from telling HMRC you’ve taken on a new employee to understanding your employer responsibilities and paying HMRC.

Monday 3rd October  14.00 to 15.00                  Book your place now

Using Basic PAYE Tools for the first time
Are you an employer with fewer than 10 employees?  We’ll demonstrate HMRC’s free payroll software during this live webinar.

Tuesday 4th October  12.00 to 13.00                  Book your place now

Get started and get it right – register now.

Applications for the Charity Governance Awards 2016 are now open!

AwardsNew Philanthropy Capital (NPC) is dedicated to helping charities maximise their impact, and helping trustees navigate their responsibilities with confidence. With governance and oversight a hot topic right now, and increased public scrutiny on charities and their boards, NPC are partnering with the Clothworkers’ Company, Reach and Prospectus, to showcase the best of the sector.

Apply by 15 January 2016 in one of six categories to let them know how great governance by your board is helping you excel in your mission.

Winners will receive £5000 to put towards their work. There is no charge for entry and shortlisted entrants will be invited to attend the awards ceremony at the Clothworkers’ Hall on 12 May 2016.

Entry criteria:

Charities must:

• be registered in the UK
• have been established before 31 December 2012
• only submit one entry across all six awards.

Entries must:

• cover activities undertaken in the last five years (2010–2015)
• focus on the work of the main board, not sub-committees
• be made by a trustee, employee or volunteer of the charity.

Charities overstate governance costs

GovernanceA report published by the Charity Commission has shown that many charities may “often overstate governance costs” in their public annual returns or accounts.

The report, published today by the Charity Commission as part of its Accounts Monitoring Review, identified 76 charities with incomes of over £500,000 that appeared to have high governance costs of more than 20 per cent of total expenditure.

The results suggest that only three of the 76 charities (4 per cent) reviewed had a reasonable explanation for the figures they reported. Some 66 of the organisations (87 per cent) had incorrectly allocated costs to governance costs that should have been included in other categories of expenditure, including charitable expenditure. The remaining seven charities were found to have incorrectly filled out their annual returns or accounts.

The Charity Commission found that the majority of those organisations surveyed “seemed either not to understand the difference between support costs and governance costs” or “were not fully aware of the SORP’s requirements for reporting their expenditure”.

Read the full article.


Age UK Sandwell is Looking for Trustees

Age UK Sandwell LogoWhatever title they have in a particular charity, trustees are the people who lead the charity and decide how it is run. Being a trustee means making decisions that will impact on people’s lives. Trustees use their skills and experience to support their charities, helping them achieve their aims. Trustees also often learn new skills and develop into new areas during their time on the board.

First and foremost, the Board of Trustees has a responsibility to ensure that the charity delivers what it is set up to do. In Age UK Sandwell’s case, this means providing care and support services and information and advice to older people in the borough. The trustees have to make sure that the organisation is well run and remains financially sound.

In practical terms, the trustee gives a little time – typically, a few hours a month –bringing the benefits of his or her experience and expertise to the charity. This can take many forms: including legal or financial expertise, knowledge of relevant organisations or useful contacts, as well as an understanding of the communities served by the charity. Perhaps most important of all, the trustee gives voice to the people that the charity is meant to serve, so empathy with older people is vital.

“For me, the charity provided a way to make good use of my experience in financial services and people management in support of a worthwhile cause. Now, we need others to join us, to ensure that the charity’s work continues”.  Andrew Farthing, Chair, Age UK Sandwell.

For an informal chat or to receive an information pack please contact Julie O’Toole (CEO) on 0121 500 1860 or by email julie.o’ in the first instance.

The Board would be particularly interested in hearing from individuals from BME communities or those with disabilities as the organisation is under represented in these areas. The organisation would also welcome interest from individuals who have knowledge and expertise in legal, financial and HR fields.

Is the NHS Standard Contract a barrier to commissioning VCS organisations?

Regional VoicesRegional Voices and the NHS have identified that VCSE organisations find the NHS Standard Contract a barrier to having their services commissioned by the NHS.  Consequently NHS chief, Simon Stevens, committed to exploring a shorter version of the NHS Standard Contract for low-value contracts, in the NHS Five Year Forward View.

Regional Voices, working with NHS England, is carrying out this survey to help understand specific issues which organisations have experienced in using the NHS Standard Contract. The survey should take no more than 15 minutes. The survey will close at 10am on 27 July.

Take the survey about the NHS Standard Contract for VCSE organisations

More information about VCSE commissioning issues in health and wellbeing and the background to this work on the Standard Contract

5 Top Tips for Finding Charity Commission Guidance

InternetGOV.UK is a single site for government and therefore contains a vast amount of material. Since the Charity Commission moved to GOV.UK they have now reviewed how people find information.


Here are some tips to help you search for and find Charity Commission guidance for charities and their advisers:




  1. When using Google, Bing or other searchengines, always include ‘charity commission’ in your search terms, eg ‘report serious incident charity commission’.
  2. Bookmark the list of topics – these list guidance for charities produced by the commission and others (eg HMRC).
  3. Bookmark their homepage to use its quick links for common tasks like annual returns.
  4. If you’re using GOV.UK’s site search, choose to only show commission guidance in search returns by clicking on the drop-down ‘Organisations’ filter and ticking ‘The Charity Commission’ (alternatively you can also include ‘charity commission’ in your search terms).
  5. Click ‘The Charity Commission’ link at the top of each page of guidance to return to our homepage (or type ‘charity commission’ into GOV.UK’s search box).

Make Sure You File on Time with the Charity Commission

E-BulletinNow into the new financial year, the Charity Commission places emphasis on reminding charities of their legal duties to file their accounts and annual returns on time with them.


All charities must inform the Charity Commission of their income and expenditure, using the annual return form. Remember:



  • charities with an annual income of over £25,000 are required to submit accounts, an independent examiner or auditor’s report, and the trustees’ annual report
  • if your charity is a CIO (charitable incorporated organisation) you must submit the annual return and accounts irrespective of your income

Charities have up to 10 months from the end of their financial year to submit their accounts, and for the many charities with a financial year end of 31 March, this deadline is 31 January.

When a charity submits their accounts late, its register profile on GOV.UK is marked as overdue, alerting potential donors.

ALL trustees are responsible for ensuring their charity files on time , it is not the responsibility of the treasurer, or an accountant. Trustees must also keep their charity’s contact and trustee details up-to-date,by law.

Governance Workshops

Office Furniture - ChairsSCVO are pleased to be running two governance workshops based on the identified needs of the Sector locally.  These workshops are aimed at Chief Officers and the Boards of Voluntary and Community Sector Organisation in Sandwell.

Each workshop will cost £10 and can be booked through Eventbrite using the following event links:

Wednesday 22nd April – Organisational Roles & Governance 

Wednesday 13th May –  Legal and Regulatory context around Charitable Trading

These workshops will run from 09.30 – 16.00 – These are stand alone workshops.

This first session on Wednesday 22nd April will look at the broader context of Organisational Roles and Governance, the schedule for the Organisational Roles and Governance Training Day:

• Incorporation – company law
• Charitable status – charity law – trust law

• Associations and trusts
• Limited companies
• Company limited by guarantee
• Charitable company
• Community interest company
• Charitable incorporated organisations
• Community benefit societies
• Subsidiaries

• Members
• Directors – Eligibility – General duties (fiduciary duty, duty of care, compliance)
• Liabilities and indemnity Delegation Specific responsibilities
• Charity trustees
• Officers – Company secretary – Chair, treasurer etc

• Definitions
• Fundamental elements
• The Code of Good Governance
• Key principles
• Checklist for good governance


The second session on Wednesday 13th May will look at the legal and regulatory context around charitable trading, the schedule for the Trading by Charities – Training Day

• Charity law and trust law
• Charitable purposes and the objects clause
• Types of trading permitted to charities – primary purpose trading / ancillary trading / small-scale trading
• Charging for services and the public benefit test
• Trust law and breach of trust
• When a trading subsidiary is needed

• Grants versus contracts
• Business planning
• Investment needs
• Financial risks
• Governance
• Mission drift

• Subsidiary trading companies – wholly-owned and partially-owned
• Owning, financing and managing a trading subsidiary – considerations
• Legal structures for subsidiaries

• Consortium/partnership models
• Implications for charities – the trust law issue

If you have any queries or questions please contact Steve Baylis – or telephone 0121 525 1127.

Charity Commission Annual Return Details 2015 Released

DataThe updated online return which collects information from charities is now live on GOV.UK and ready for charities to use. The annual return is an essential service for collecting data to update the register of charities, and helps us to hold charities to account on behalf of the public.

All registered charities with an income of more than £10,000 and all Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs) who are reporting on their financial years ending in 2015 must complete the online form. Sections of the data then populate the commission’s register of charities. The online public register was viewed more than 6 million times last year and is a key source of data about charities in England and Wales.
The form includes new questions which charities must answer that will strengthen the regulator’s ability to identify risk, and will ensure people have access to the information they need to make confident decisions about charities.
Charities must now answer three new questions when they go online to complete the annual return:-
–  in the reporting period, how much income did you receive from:-
–  contracts from central or local government to deliver services?
–  grants from central or local government?
–  does your charity have a policy on paying its staff?
– has your charity reviewed its financial controls during the reporting period?

Charities, their trustees and advisers are encouraged to read the online guidance provided before logging on to complete the annual return so that they know what information they need to submit. Charities have ten months from their financial year end to complete the annual return.

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