New hotline for whistleblowers
The Charity Commission has launched a hotline for whistleblowers to report concerns to the regulator. Helen Stephenson, the regulator's chief executive, said: “We want to make it easier for charity workers and volunteers to draw serious concerns about their charity to our attention, particularly where the charity’s trustees and senior management team aren’t addressing them.” The hotline project is operated independently by the whistleblowing charity Protect. The number is a free and confidential advice line, available on: 0800 055 7214. Meanwhile, the regulator's ‘Report serious wrongdoing at a charity as a worker or volunteer’ guidance informs people about what sort of wrongdoing can be reported, and how this can be done.
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Governance performance review disappoints
Charities scored an average of 52% in a new measure of charity compliance with the Governance Code, according to audit firm RSM. A total of 85 charities with incomes over £5m were scored out of 100 according to evidence of adoption of and compliance with the Code. Nick Sladden, RSM’s head of charities and the author of the report, observed: “Demonstrating effective governance is . . . absolutely key to ensuring that the sector can continue to rely on public generosity, interest and support. However, our research shows that while there are examples of best practice, average scores are disappointing and some charities have a lot of room for improvement."
Cybersecurity toolkit for charity boards
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has launched its new Board Toolkit – a manual for charities to develop their cybersecurity strategies and create the right dialogue with their trustee boards. Ciaran Martin, NCSC chief executive, said: “The Board Toolkit encourages essential discussions between trustee boards and technical experts within the UK’s larger charities to help charities ensure they are putting in places the measures needed to help prevent [malicious cyber] incidents . . . The NCSC has also produced a guide for smaller charities to provide them with practical steps to take to protect themselves from the most common cyber-crimes.” Almost two-thirds (65%) of high-income charities recorded a cybersecurity incident last year.
Sector needs a ‘cultural upheaval'
Baroness Tina Stowell, chair of the Charity Commission, has said the sector typically doesn't reach its potential and organisations must rethink how they deliver their objectives. Speaking at the leadership forum Charity2020 last week, Baroness Stowell also warned the sector about the risks of complacency. She said: “I am convinced that, if they are to continue to thrive, and retain their place at the heart of our society, charities will need to demonstrate that they are more than organisations that have good aims,” adding “To achieve this future requires nothing short of cultural upheaval in the sector, and it’s requiring us as regulator to do our work in new and very different, difficult ways.”
Bottle deposit scheme could raise over £1bn
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) says more than £1bn could be raised for charities if a deposit-return scheme for cans and bottles was introduced in the UK. The countryside charity is urging the government to introduce such a deposit-return scheme following survey findings which suggest that 20% of people would donate 20p deposits they’d paid on drinks cans and bottles all the time, and 19% would do so most of the time. Samantha Harding, litter programme director at CPRE, said: “Not only would the introduction of a UK-wide deposit return system put a stop to most of the environmental damage caused by drinks containers and boost recycling rates in excess of 90%, it could also provide much-needed funding for good causes across the country."
Agency to promote impact investing is launched
The Impact Investing Institute is a new body which seeks to promote impact investing in the UK. The institute, which is supported by Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for International Development and the City of London Corporation, and private firms and foundations, is an amalgamation of the UK National Advisory Board on Impact Investing (UK NAB) and the Implementation Taskforce on Growing a Culture of Social Impact Investing. Sir Harvey McGrath, chair of UK NAB and Big Society Capital, and Elizabeth Corley, chair of the Implementation Taskforce and vice-chair of Allianz Global Investors, will lead the new body and the process of hiring a chief executive has begun. Corley said: “The institute will play a significant role in ensuring the UK continues to stay at the forefront of innovation in impact investing, enabling UK savers to invest in line with their values and have increased ownership over the social outcomes that their money generates.”
Free accelerator program for charity apps
Mobile app marketing consultancy Yodel Mobile is offering charities the opportunity to improve their app marketing through a free accelerator programme that will provide expertise on acquiring, engaging and keeping high-value customers and users. Charity Digital News notes that Yodel Mobile last year partnered with Breast Cancer Care App to ensure that the app reached the users who most benefited from it.
Amnesty bosses leave after ‘toxic’ workplace report
Amnesty International is to lose five of its seven senior leadership team, with all seven having offered to resign, following an independent report's finding of a "toxic" workplace culture at the charity. The review, which surveyed 475 workers, found a prevalence of manager bullying, multiple accounts of discrimination based on race, gender and sexual orientation, and an "us versus them" dynamic between employees and management. The review was ordered after two employees killed themselves last year, with one employee explicitly referring to stress and overwork in a note. The Economist says the report about the charity’s work environment illustrates how managers need to seriously consider the views of staff or risk natural work pressures developing into toxic stresses that infect the organisation. The report found that nearly 40% of the human rights charity’s employees developed mental or physical health issues as a result of their work , and this was exacerbated by their belief in the charity’s mission. Amy Edmondson of Harvard Business School suggests the ideal organisation creates an atmosphere of “psychological safety,” where managers learn the art of “respectful inquiry” so workers can speak their minds to attentive bosses.
Campaign to get non-grads into the sector
Charities are being urged to stop excluding people who don't have a degree from applying for jobs. David Burgess, director at Apollo Fundraising, has launched the #NonGraduatesWelcome campaign because he believes a requirement for a degree-level education can be a barrier to diversity. He said: “We want organisations to consider what they are really looking for when asking for a degree-level qualification and to be more transparent about the skills and experience they require." The campaign has support from John Thompson, director of fundraising & recruitment services at Changing Business, and Lizzi Hollis, head of corporate engagement and partnerships at Richard House Children’s Hospice.
Prisoners given day-release to boost employability
Thousands more prisoners across the UK may be allowed to leave prison to work and help charities on day release, under new rules aimed to boost employment amongst those leaving prison. Justice Secretary David Gauke says: "Broadening access to training and work opportunities is a vital part of our strategy to steer offenders away from a life of crime," with those able to find employment after serving sentences statistically less likely to commit further offences.
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Don't claim VAT relief on social media adverts, says HMRC
HM Revenue and Customs says charities must pay a standard VAT rate for social media advertising. A zero-rating doesn't apply to advertising services targeted at selected individuals or groups, the tax authority said. But Richard Bray, vice chair of the Charity Tax Group, said this was not necessarily an “open and shut” case. “The Charity Tax Group is in discussions with HMRC over the issue and we would encourage anyone contacted by HMRC to get in contact with their professional adviser,” he said.
Millions 'lack access' to parks and green spaces
Millions of people in Great Britain do not have access to a nearby park or green space, a study suggests. The Green Space Index by Fields in Trust found that more than 2.5m people lived more than a 10-minute walk from the nearest area. The charity notes that there is no statutory protection for green spaces in Britain, with about 6% of parks and green spaces protected, and calls for the Index to be used as an “early warning system as we should be doing more to protect”.
Gift Aid fraudster spent more than £76k cruising the world
A charity treasurer who tried to steal more than £330,000 in a Gift Aid repayment fraud has been jailed for three years. Dale Hicks of Stoke-on-Trent abused his position at a Staffordshire based ex-offenders charity by lodging a string of false claims, an HMRC investigation found. Hicks spent at least £76,000 of the cash on cruises and other holidays.