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Charity Times - 03/03/2020

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Charities mustn't dismiss complaints, regulator says

The Charity Commission says charities must 'listen and learn' when complaints are made to them, amid concerns many charities are 'ignoring or dismissing' issues. The regulator's warning follows criticism that it didn't pursue complaints made about the Alzheimer's Society in 2018 regarding bullying and staff payments. "Charity can and should lead the way in taking public expectations seriously. If you’re a charity, that includes showing that you take complaints and concerns seriously, and are responding appropriately," Charity Commission CEO Helen Stephenson said, adding "This review demonstrates that these high expectations are shared by those close to you: your own beneficiaries, volunteers, staff, supporters and trustees – and that, if they complain, by responding well in the first place, you can help avoid matters being brought to the regulator’s attention. I hope thi s review helps empower charities to take preventative steps that avoid complaints, and to respond with care when problems do arise." Charity Times


Charities regain confidence to campaign

Charities appears to be regaining their confidence to campaign despite reporting negative attitudes in the media and among politicians, a survey suggests. A total of 189 campaigners and change-makers were surveyed for the latest Sheila McKechnie Foundation Campaigner Survey. Almost half (48%) of those polled believe that public attitudes to campaigning have become more positive in the past year, although 45% report increasingly negative attitudes amongst politicians and 41% report negativity from the media. Sue Tibballs, chief executive of the Sheila McKechnie Foundation, said: “It is brilliant to see civil society rallying and recovering its confidence to campaign after a long period of feeling conflicted and constrained. Conditions put on public funding have made it difficult for charities to speak up, and the sector has come under sustained pressure from politicians and regulators to step away from political debate." UKFundraising


Direct mail is the most complained about method of fundraising

The Fundraising Regulator's annual Complaints Report identifies direct mail as the most complained about method of fundraising among the largest charities last year. A total of 5,619 complaints received both by the regulator and by 58 charities were about direct mail, an increase of 19% on the previous year. Door-to-door fundraising came second, with 4,094 complaints, 22% up on the year before. Complaints about outdoor events were up 43%, and complaints about private site fundraising were up by 27%. Complaints about online advertising were down 16%. Overall, complaints made to the regulator itself were down by 33% on the previous year; it received 737 between September 1st 2018 and August 31st 2019. Gerald Oppenheim, chief executive of the Fundraising Regulator, said: “Our annual Complaints Report is crucial in providing us with a clear picture of fundraising standards in the UK. The findings help us to identify areas which need greater attention from us, but also allow us to see where there has been improvement. We are grateful for the sector’s continued positive response to the recommendations we make and I look forward to working closely with fundraising organisations to maintain the high standards of fundraising practice we see today.” Civil Society, UKFundraising

HMRC to start charging NI on testimonial matches for retired players

Football clubs and other bodies organising testimonials for retired sportsmen and women will have to pay National Insurance on any money raised above the sum of £100,000 from April. Traditionally, the matches feature the player’s former teammates and were a reward for long service to a single club, with the proceeds going to support the player in retirement. However, declining player loyalty has made them less common, with players who do receive a testimonial often donating the money to charity. HMRC did not make clear whether the National Insurance charges would apply if the proceeds are donated to charity. If a player has died and the money is given directly to their family, then the new rules would not apply. The Daily Telegraph

Long-serving small charities champion steps down

Mike Lewis, the first and only grant manager for Wales at Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, is stepping down from the role after 23 years. He currently supports 62 charities across Wales which have been awarded grants worth a total of £4,260,617 from the charitable trust. “I’ve seen first-hand the difference small charities make to the lives of ordinary people. They are the heartbeat of communities and do incredible but often unrecognised work. I am proud to have spent over two decades working with them to reach out to some of the most disadvantaged people in society," he said. Charity Today

IoF investigates harassment complaints

The Institute of Fundraising (IoF) says it is probing a ‘small number of complaints’ about sexual harassment. The IoF has previously encouraged fundraisers to report breaches of its code of conduct and pledged to investigate complaints. A spokesperson told Civil Society that since an updating of its code of conduct and a change to its complaints policy to allow the investigation of anonymous complaints, the IoF has “received a small number of complaints which have been, or are continuing to be, investigated”. Civil Society

Contactless donations for homeless people

A contactless payment initiative has been launched to help homeless people in Glasgow. An online donation facility and contactless giving points will enable people to pay for practical items for homeless people, including clothes to attend a job interview and tickets for public transport. Simon Community Scotland, Glasgow Homelessness Network and The Big Issue partnered with Glasgow City Council, the Chamber of Commerce and Police Scotland on the scheme. Third Force News


Charity's Living Wage pledge

Sistema Scotland , a charity that aims to transform lives and communities through music and which runs the Big Noise programme, has made a commitment to ensure its workers are paid fairly, and has been accredited as a Living Wage employer by Living Wage Scotland. All staff at Sistema Scotland, whether they are direct employees or third-party contracted staff, will receive a minimum hourly wage of £9.30. This is higher than the statutory minimum for over 25s of £8.21 per hour. Jack Evans, Living Wage Scotland manager, said: “We hope that the real Living Wage commitment of over 500 Scottish third sector organisations, including Sistema will inspire more of Scotland’s third sector to choose the real Living Wage as an important step to ensure workers and their families earn enough to get by." Third Force News

Ethical vegan settles tribunal case

So-called “ethical vegan” Jordi Casamitjana says his legal battle against his former employer is a “victory for animal protection” after he settled the case at an employment tribunal. Mr Casamitjana said he was dismissed by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) after he raised concerns that the charity's pension fund was being invested in organisations that tested on animals and did damage to the environment. The charity, which previously claimed that Mr Casamitjana was properly dismissed for gross misconduct, conceded he had done nothing wrong to raise such concerns. Mr Casamitjana said: “The case has established that ethical vegans are protected from discrimination, and I have received the acknowledgement I sought that my dismissal was based on my ethical veganism, and was not justified or justifiable.” Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, BBC News, The Guardian


Conference will bring sector together

The National Charity Conference ’20 will be held at the Allia Conference Centre in Peterborough on Tuesday December 8th 2020 to coincide with UK Charity Week. The event will bring together practitioners working within and for the charity sector. Topics to be discussed on the day will include fundraising, marketing, governance, finance and collaboration. Charity Today


Government probes NCS Trust

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is investigating governance issues at NCS Trust, the royal charter body that has overseen the development of the National Citizen Service youth volunteering programme, after becoming aware of “an unacceptable exit package proposed for the outgoing NCS chief executive”. Former chief executive Michael Lynas has been involved since the inception of the flagship youth volunteering programme in 2009, but resigned last year. He had been expected to be part of a transition committee for the new chief executive and act as a consultant for six months. The Sunday Mirror reported that Mr Lynas had been due to receive £15,000 to “help him train for a new job.” A DCMS spokesperson said: “Earlier this month we were made aware of an unacceptable exit package proposed for the outgoing NCS chief executive. We have taken swift action to s top this , and are investigating wider issues around governance." Civil Society


Samaritans drops plans to hire Jeremy Hughes

Following reports of bullying at the Alzheimer’s Society under the leadership of Jeremy Hughes, Samaritans has decided to scrap his appointment as their new chief executive. Whistleblowers alleged that he displayed bullying behaviour to staff and presided over a toxic culture at the dementia charity, leading to payouts totalling £750,000 to staff. A spokesperson for Samaritans said: “In light of events over the past week, the board of trustees has decided that it cannot proceed with the appointment of Jeremy Hughes as chief executive, which was due to start in May. This decision is not in any way based on the allegations themselves, which Samaritans is not in a position to judge. It will begin a new chief executive recruitment process in due course.” Third Force News


Children to be taught their legal rights

The Times reports on Justice Week, a campaign seeking to promote teaching of the rule of law in schools. As part of the campaign, organised by education charity Young Citizens, nearly 40,000 young people in more than 440 schools are expected to participate in what one City law firm describes as "the biggest public legal education event of its kind". Young Citizens describes it as "a nationwide effort to support the next generation to understand their legal rights and why the law protects us all". Tom Franklin, the charity's chief executive, says that the programme "gives schools a greater licence to teach about subjects such as the law through citizenship". Law firms involved include Allen & Overy. Mark Mansell, a partner at the firm, predicts that the effects “will stay with the children involved for all of their lives”. He adds: “Engaging children at a young age in the fundamentals of the rule of law is the begin ning of them understanding how our society runs and the crucial role they can play within it.” The Times