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Charity Times - 17/03/2020

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Funders pledge support during coronavirus emergency

An alliance of more than 30 grant makers have signed a joint statement pledging to support charities during the coronavirus emergency. The alliance has declared the pandemic to be an "exceptional event" that will "almost certainly affect charity staffing" and will necessitate extra support for beneficiaries. The funders said they will commit to 'four main ways of working' in support of charities during the outbreak. These are: adapting activities (acknowledging that agreed outcomes may not be achieved in set time-frames); discussing dates (not pressing organisations to meet tight reporting deadlines); financial flexibility (allowing organisations to use money differently); and listening (encouraging discourse between funders and grantees). A statement from the funders says: “We wish to be as helpful as possible during the coming weeks and months so that civil society groups can focus on the vital work of supporting some of the most vul nerable people in our communities. We understand that there will be times when staff and volunteers will not be available, when beneficiaries may need services to be provided in different ways, or when systems need to be flexible to ensure that needs are met.” Meanwhile, the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) has published a blog on what foundations need to be considering in the face of the threat, observing that one such area is “impact on the causes that foundations support.” Charity TimesUKFundraising, Civil Society

London Marathon postponed until October

The London Marathon has been postponed and rescheduled for October 4th because of the coronavirus outbreak. The event was scheduled to take place on April 26th. It is the first time the race has been postponed since its launch in 1981. "The world is in an unprecedented situation, grappling with a global pandemic of COVID-19, and public health is everyone's priority," said event director Hugh Brasher. Last year, the event raised a record-breaking £66.4m for charity - a new world record for an annual single-day charity fundraising. Brasher went on to say: “We know that there will be many, many questions from runners, charities and others and we ask you to please bear with us as we work through the detailed planning process to deliver the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon on its new scheduled date." Civil Society, Charity TimesBBC News

A quarter of donors over 40 plan to leave a legacy

A quarter of donors aged 40 and over plan to leave a legacy to charity or are preparing to do so, according to a survey of 1,000 adults commissioned by legacy consortium Remember A Charity. The share is a 6% increase compared to ten years ago. The poll also found that the number of people who are unaware of legacy giving has almost halved over the last decade, from 20% in 2010 to 11% last year. Rob Cope, director of Remember A Charity, said: “We’re continuing to see growth in legacy giving over the long term . . .  It’s clear that there’s a real appetite for supporters to do something meaningful for good causes at the end of their lives, and that charities are communicating legacies well; creatively and sensitively, demonstrating how important they are in funding vital services." Civil Society

Panic-buying hits food banks

Food banks are running out of staple foods as a result of shoppers panic-buying. Donations at branches of Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have fallen to a quarter of their usual amount at one London food bank. Meanwhile, Third Force News reports that Edinburgh Food Project says donation baskets have had to be moved closer to staff at some shops in the city after items previously given to the charity were removed. A statement from the project, which manages seven emergency food outlets as part of the Trussell Trust, said: “You may have noticed that our donation baskets have either been moved or removed in some supermarkets . . . Unfortunately this is due to items being taken from our baskets by shoppers. They are now in a place more visible to supermarket staff to be monitored. The Guardian, Daily Mail, Third Force News

Tampon Tax Fund opens for applications

Charities supporting women and girls are invited to apply for a share of the £15m funding pot being made available from the Tampon Tax Fund. The money is raised through VAT on women’s sanitary products. The tax will come to an end in January 2021. Charities can apply for grants to fund projects which directly benefit disadvantaged women and girls, tackle violence and support mental health and wellbeing. Third Force News


Charity was ‘reckless’ with its money

Former trustees of the charity ANO were responsible for misconduct and/or mismanagement in the administration of the organisation over a period of years, the Charity Commission has found. One former trustee has been disqualified. The charitable objects of ANO are to relieve suffering via financial provision and medical aid in Leicestershire, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malawi and Turkey. Tim Hopkins, assistant director of investigations, monitoring and enforcement at the regulator, said: "Our inquiry found that the former trustees were reckless with charity funds. Former trustees failed to carry out adequate due diligence on overseas operations and partners, operating in high-risk areas without adequate risk assessment, and cash couriering, a practice discouraged by the Commission. The reckless conduct of one former trustee warranted further action and they have rightly been disqualified. The charity now has a new truste e board who are working with the Commission to improve governance and financial management at the charity. The Commission will continue to monitor its progress." Accountancy DailyGOV.UK

Trustee operated without oversight at ‘inadequately run’ charity

The Charity Commission has found the governance and financial management of the Ummah Welfare Foundation was inadequate, with the charity and its finances left under the sole control of one trustee. The Commission has since removed the trustee from the charity. Ummah Welfare, which is based in Oldham, aims to relieve poverty and sickness and advance education in the world. Amy Spiller, head of investigations team at the Charity Commission, said: "Charity can and should lead the way in taking public expectations seriously. This charity’s behaviour fell well below those expectations – with inadequate financial control and no oversight from trustees - a sole trustee made significant decisions alone and engaged in risky practices like cash couriering. It’s right that the trustee responsible has been removed. We expect the new trustee board to comply with our action plan in full." Civil Society, Third Sector, GOV.UK

Regulator changes senior management structure

The Charity Commission is changing its senior management structure after the departure of some of its directors last year, and is seeking a new chief operating officer. The COO will be responsible for key corporate functions, including HR, finance, governance, risk and assurance. The role is being advertised at a salary of £105,000 and will be based in the Commission’s main office in Liverpool. A Commission spokesperson said: “The Charity Commission is changing so that charity can deliver greater benefit to society. Like any organisation, we need to be open to continual change that ensures our systems and structures keep pace with, and serve, our purpose and strategic objectives. “Improving our senior management structure is part of that, and is aimed at ensuring we are as efficient and accountable as possible as we continue to deliver on our strategy and ambitious business plan.” Civil Society


Charities call for inquiry into welfare cut deaths

Charities have called for an independent inquiry into deaths related to welfare cuts, following the death of a disabled man who had been told his benefit entitlements were being removed. Christian Wilcox, who reportedly suffered from schizophrenia and a physical impairment, was found dead in his home earlier this year, and was believed to have died in late November, after writing online that a disability benefits assessor had “ignored the sheer amount of pain” he was in. A joint statement signed by more than 20 charities, including Mind and the Trussell Trust, has called for an independent inquiry, with a remit to recommend changes to both government policy and internal Department for Work and Pensions processes. A National Audit Office report recently found it was “highly unlikely” that the DWP had investigated all cases where benefit claimants had died by suicide. The Independent, BBC News

Cycling charity warns of pothole dangers

Cycling UK has published a report which claims that just one in eight local authorities is meeting targets to fill potholes and repair other road defects on time. The data was based on freedom of information responses by 85 local councils. Separate analysis of Department for Transport figures found that at least 448 cyclists were killed or seriously injured in crashes involving road defects over a 10-year period. The charity says the research underlines a need for a long-term funding strategy to deal with the country's "pothole crisis". Last week the Chancellor announced £2.5bn over the next five years to repair up to 50m potholes as part of the government's "levelling up" agenda to upgrade infrastructure across the UK. Separately, Cycling UK chief executive Paul Tuohy is stepping down after five years in the role. The charity has credited him with transforming it into “a progressive, fearless campaigner for cyclists’ rights,” during his time in charge, reports The Times

Charities warn of free school meals loss

Charities including Sustainthe Food Foundation, Church Action on Poverty, Magic Breakfast, the Soil Association and the Independent Food Aid Network have written to the government urging ministers to set out plans to feed children from hard-up families if the coronavirus shuts schools and so blocks access to free meals. Sustain chief Kath Dalmeny said: "About 1.5m children are eligible for free school meals due to families on a very low income. If schools shut to prevent the spread of coronavirus, families will struggle to be able to afford to feed their children at home, and will not be able to stockpile food supplies if they are self-isolating.” A letter from the group went to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick. Daily Mirror ​