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Charity Times - 26/02/2019

Posted by Claire Stradling

GOVERNANCE

Charities fight back after attack over expenditure

Charities have defended themselves after the Mail on Sunday reported about issues of expenditure on executive pay and backroom running costs. A number of large charities have been accused of misleading donors, with analysis reported by the newspaper indicating that many include money spent on executive pay, public relations and support services in the sum they say goes to the causes they represent. The investigation suggests that the most recent accounts from ten of the UK's largest charities included more than £225m of support and governance costs in £3.9bn of charitable spending. Gina Miller, an investor and corporate governance expert, said: “It is clearly absurd that charities are allowed to hide large elements of their costs within their disclosed charitable spending number.” But John Downie, director of public affairs at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, said: “The distinction between back office costs and charitable activities is a false one – everything a charity does, at every level, should be supporting its overall mission." The accounts of the ten largest mainstream UK charities by income were examined by the newspaper: Save the Children International, Save the Children UK, Cancer Research UK, National Trust, Oxfam, British Heart Foundation, Sightsavers, Barnardo's, Marie Stopes and the British Red Cross.

Third Force News The Mail on Sunday

Governance model for large charities is 'broken'

Philip Kirkpatrick, head of charities and social enterprise at law firm Bates Wells, says the governance model for large charities needs to be revamped. He said: “The governance model for large complex charities is completely broken . . . It is starting to look a little backward,” adding “No one can look at what is demanded of part time, unpaid, non-executive trustees of complex operational charities and say it is fair or appropriate that those trustees are held to account for everything the charity does. It is time to recognise realities and offer a new model.” He proposes a model whereby charities have a unitary board comprised of paid trustees and the senior executive directors, alongside an “assurance” board from the charity’s membership who would be volunteers.

Third Sector Civil Society

Regulator has 'left me haunted and in limbo,' says charity founder

The founder of a rescue centre in Wales whose animals were removed by the RSPCA says the Charity Commission has left her "haunted, targeted and in limbo." The regulator had installed its own interim manager following concerns about the management and sustainability of Capricorn Animal Rescue Centre in Padeswood, Flintshire. The RSPCA was called in to rehouse the animals after the manager decided the charity was no longer viable. There is no suggestion of ill-treatment of animals. Sheila Stewart, who founded the centre, says the operation caused animals to become unnecessarily distressed, and she says she has been "kept in the dark" about the whole affair.

Daily Post (Wales)

FUNDRAISING

Hub to encourage gamers to fundraise

The Gaming for Social Good online hub has been launched by JustGiving to encourage gamers to donate to charities. The hub features tools and resources for gamers who livestream their gameplay to create fundraisers and encourage their audiences to donate to charity. Lucy Squance, director of supporter-led fundraising at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “JustGiving is making it easy for people to support causes close to their hearts by simply doing something they love and, given the size of the market, we believe the potential growth could be a game-changer for the third sector.” War Child UK, the National Autistic Society, and disability charity SpecialEffect are among those to have already signed up to support the initiative.

Civil Society

Retailers accused of keeping money from plastic bag levy

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has released a “list of shame” which names retailers accused of keeping the plastic bag levy instead of donating it to charity. It is claimed that sports retailer Decathlon and homeware store Tiger have both kept the profits from the charge aimed at tackling the plastic menace and reducing litter, while supermarkets Lidl and Farmfoods kept part of the money, despite ministers telling stores they are expected to donate all proceeds to good causes. Lidl says it has donated a “significant proportion” of its plastic bag levy proceeds, which total more than £2.3m for 2016-17 and 2017-18 and refused to say how much of the money it had kept back.

Daily Mail

DIGITAL

IT skills in decline among trustees

Tech Trust’s yearly cross-sector survey on digital indicates that 40% of charities think their trustees’ IT competence is ‘below average.’ The comparable figure in last year’s report from Tech Trust was 29%. The report warns that such shortcomings could put many charities behind as they seek to enable digital change. The report, titled ‘The Charity Digital Spectrum: How all charities can go further with digital,' suggests actions for charities which want to make the most of their digital missions.

Charity Digital News

SUPPORT

Website to help charities register with regulator

The Small Charities Coalition is launching a digital toolkit to support smaller charities that want to register with the Charity Commission. The charitysetup.org.uk website provides a checklist of steps to take when setting up a charity, including registering with the regulator, keeping minutes of meetings, managing finances and recruiting trustees. The Small Charities Coalition recently found that 44% of its support line queries are about establishing a charity. Angela Style, interim chief executive, said: “Our members tell us every day that the current guidelines, although thorough, are not always written with small charities in mind, especially charities who are time and cash strapped."

Civil Society

LEGAL

Judicial review launched over 'myth busting' guide

Children's rights charity Article 39 has launched High Court proceedings against the Department for Education over claims a "myth busting" guide for local authorities "removes important statutory safeguards" for children. The charity has previously said that the guidance produced by the DfE's children's social care innovation programme features "numerous errors and misrepresentations of the statutory framework" on how social workers should support children in care. A joint letter detailing the legal inaccuracies in the document, which was signed by 50 charities and social work experts, was delivered to children's minister Nadhim Zahawi in September last year. Article 39 director Carolyne Willow said it was "deeply regrettable" that the DfE's myth-busting guide was still in circulation.

Children & Young People Now BBC News

Scam ‘charity’ shut down

The Insolvency Service has won a High Court order to shut down Data Northern, an organisation which claimed to run antidrugs campaigns in schools, but was exposed by the Mail on Sunday as being a scam. The “charity” cold-called small firms, implying that it was a working with the police and schools, before requesting donations to produce booklets warning teenagers against drugs - raking in more than £880,000.

The Mail on Sunday

AWARDS

Christian charity tops Sunday Times list

Bradford headquartered Christian charity Transforming Lives for Good (TLG) has been named as the best not-for-profit organisation to work for in the UK by the Sunday Times. London-based education charity The Brilliant Club placed second and housing developer Stockport Homes Group came third.

Sunday Times

PEOPLE

Ruth Hunt steps down at Stonewall

Stonewall chief executive Ruth Hunt is leaving the charity in August 2019 after 14 years. She has been chief executive for the last five years. Jan Gooding, Chair of the Board of Trustees, said Ruth's "commitment to integrating trans communities into Stonewall’s work, following a period of extensive consultation, has been and will continue to be integral to our development as an organisation."

Charity Today

CAMPAIGNS

Charities warn over cuts to children’s services

A group of charities has warned that funding for children’s services has been cut by a third since 2010, and in some parts of England the money available to local councils per child has dropped by as much as 52% in real terms. Councils in London have suffered the largest cuts, with Westminster's funding per child down by more than half, from £1,591 to £761.62, followed by Tower Hamlets (49%), Camden (49%), Newham (46%) and Hackney (46%). Elsewhere, the amount available per child in Manchester is down by 45%, and by 43% in Birmingham. Experts warned that the cuts have left thousands more children at risk of neglect and abuse, while youth workers and social workers say the reduction in services are inextricably linked to a rise in youth knife crime and the criminal exploitation of children by county lines gangs.

The Independent The Guardian

Drug testing clinic approved

The Home Office has issued its first drug-checking service licence, meaning users will be able to have their illicit substances tested without fear of being arrested. A year-long pilot will be run in Weston-Super-Mare by the charity Addaction in partnership with Hertfordshire University. If successful it could be rolled out nationally. It will build on the work by drug safety charity The Loop, which already conducts drug testing at music festivals and has carried out a similar exercise at a pop-up site in Bristol city centre.

The Observer

OTHER

Charity database will list councils’ sculptures

Charity Art UK , which has already created a register of publicly owned oil paintings across Britain, is creating a similar database of sculptures owned by local authorities and other public bodies. Director Andrew Ellis said the “variety, the range, is just stunning, and what is extraordinary is that it is going to be so much more global” than the register of paintings. “Paintings are predominantly a western European tradition but the sculpture collection we are bringing together is from across the world, and you can see that already. There are Buddhas, there are Hindu reliefs in Northampton from the 12th century - and that is just the first 1,000 records,” he added.

The Guardian

 
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