Oxfam findings released by Charity Commission
The Charity Commission has published a critical report on Oxfam GB, with aspects of the charity’s past record on safeguarding allegedly amounting to mismanagement. The charity was found to have repeatedly fallen below expected standards, tolerated poor behaviour, and failed to meet safeguarding goals. The organisation’s overall approach to safeguarding both in the past and currently was deemed unsatisfactory. Helen Stephenson, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, commented: “The charity’s leadership may have been well-intentioned. But our report demonstrates that good intentions have limited value when they are not matched with resources, robust systems and processes that are implemented on the ground, and more importantly, an organisational culture that prioritises keeping people safe.”
Morgan review: Charity accounting needs radical overhaul
Professor Gareth Morgan, chair of the Charity SORP review panel, has said that charity reporting and accounting needs to be overhauled to provide more transparency and accountability on financials and to simplify the reporting process for the smallest charities. The nine-month investigation was instigated following criticism of the members of the Charity SORP committee, who are responsible for writing the accounting rules for the charity sector. One of the main criticisms was the committee's slowness to reflect wider changes to FRS 102 accounting rules, as well as failing to strengthen the weak controls over anti-money laundering and cross-border financial oversight of charities. The governance review was undertaken by an oversight panel comprising a representative from each of the four charity regulators and an observer representative nominated by the Financial Reporting Council.
Labour’s civil society strategy broadly welcomed
The charity sector has broadly welcomed Labour’s newly-published 14-page civil society strategy, entitled From "Paternalism to Participation," which includes pledges to increase grant funding for small charities and measures to increase diversity among charity leaders. Roberta Fusco, director of policy and engagement at the Charity Finance Group, championed the focus on improving access to digital services in the sector and plans to review the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme. Jay Kennedy, director of policy and research at the Directory of Social Change, praised the pledge to involve charities more in determining how the government’s Shared Prosperity Fund will be allocated to replace current EU funding, along with plans to use funding from dormant financial assets to support community organisations and projects, while Sir John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, cautioned: “This strategy has an ambitious scope but it could go further and details are needed to flesh out what the party would do in practice.”
Audit committees and financial reporting
Don Bawtree of BDO highlights that the Financial Reporting Council and the ICAEW have issued a guide on issues audit committees might need to consider in relation to financial reporting. He says the guidance, which he describes as “straightforward and practical”, can be applied to charity trustees.
Regulator warns against taxing private schools
In a submission to Holyrood’s local government committee, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has advised against forcing private schools to pay business rates as it risks forcing them to cease operating as a charitable institutions, which would have a detrimental impact on communities due to lost access to valuable shared facilities and state pupils missing out on classes. The Scottish Government is considering implementing the recommendations of the Barclay review into business rates, allowing councils to tax independent schools in future.
Charity Commission probes Jarrow's St Clare's Hospice
St Clare's Hospice’ collapse into insolvency is being reviewed by the Charity Commission, which is "assessing information, including a serious incident report submitted by the charity”. This follows South Tyneside Council's overview and scrutiny committee chairman Rob Dix agreeing last month to write to the Commission to request an assessment of the events leading up to the collapse of the hospice in Jarrow, South Tyneside.
Viva Palestina report says charity ‘may have delivered no aid’
A damning new report from the Charity Commission has found that humanitarian charity Viva Palestina, fronted by former MP George Galloway may not have delivered any aid to Palestine. A decade of probes into the organisation has found that while “significant cash donations were received by the charity via direct bank transfer”, there was “no evidence that these donated funds had been spent on their intended purpose”. The charity was also found to have failed to maintain records of donated assets.
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Few BAME fundraisers, report says
Just 9% of fundraisers belong to a Black, Asian, minority ethnic (BAME) background, according to a new report released by the Institute of Fundraising, which also shows that only 3% have a disability. The “Who’s Not in the Room” research aimed to give a snapshot of diversity in fundraising and was based on survey data provided by hundreds of respondents. London-based charities had 11% of fundraisers from an ethnic minority background, compared to a 40.2% total BAME population, while the West Midlands and the North West have 13% and 12% BAME fundraisers respectively.
Scots’ generosity to charity dips
Scotland's generosity to charity has dipped, according to the Charities Aid Foundation’s (CAF) annual Scotland Giving report, prompting calls for charities to increase public engagement. The amount donated by Scottish people to charity in 2018 fell by nearly 30% (£349m) to £851m last year, down from a high of £1.2bn in 2017. Though Scots are still 12 percentage points higher than the UK average of 64% when it comes to donating to charity, Susan Pinkney, the CAF's head of research, underlined scope for charities to use the figures as a catalyst for greater engagement, adding: "This can also act as an opportunity to reassure them that their favourite charities are worth their time, effort and hard-earned money."
Fundraising platform adds WhatsApp functionality
Not-for-profit digital matching platform The Good Exchange has integrated online chat network WhatsApp into its services. The online fundraising platform says the added functionality will enable people to easier share fundraising projects to drive awareness and increase visibility.
Young Fundraiser of the Year announced by IoF
Emma Powell has won this year’s Institute of Fundraising Young Fundraiser of the Year Award. She has fundraised for cancer charities since her twin sister died of the illness aged 11, raising more than £130,000 for The Chartwell Children’s Cancer Trust, Rays of Sunshine, Demelza Hospice and CLIC Sargent.
Fundraisers register for free virtual conference
The Resource Alliance community of fundraisers and changemakers is about to welcome thousands of people who have signed up to participate in the Fundraising Online 2019 free online conference. This year’s event begins on June 12, with keynote speakers including Ann Mei Chang, author of Lean Impact: How to Innovate for Radically Greater Social Good.
Report urges charities to embrace digital
Charities must embrace digital fundraising to remain relevant, according to the new "Future Charities" report by Kivo, Manifesto Digital and Massive consultancies, which focuses on six factors which are needed to address the technological, social, demographic and economic challenges facing the industry - redefining purpose, building confidence, securing the right people, measuring meaningfully, collaborating actively, and looking beyond the sector. While digital challenges are clear, many respondents to the survey spoke of the positive opportunities which new technologies present, with 75% indicating that they believed that changes in technology could affect their workplace and organisation in a positive way.
Rafful raises £150k
Manchester start-up Rafful, which enable organisations to raise money for charities by partnering with influential people and leveraging their social media followings to spread the word, has raised £150,000 of equity investment to build a dedicated platform. Charities including MIND, Cancer Research UK, The British Red Cross and Oxfam have already signed up to use the portal.
Tyneside mobile donations startup raises £300k
Newcastle-based tech startup Donr, a platform to allow people to donate to charities using their mobile phones, has secured a £300,000 equity investment from the Northstar Ventures-managed North East Innovation Fund. Donr is already used by over 800 charities, including national organisations like The Big Issue Foundation and The Trussell Trust, as well as local, North East charities such as Sage Gateshead and Tyneside Cinema.
Government releases public sector AI guidance
The UK Government has published comprehensive new guidance on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the public sector. The report, led by Office for Artificial Intelligence (OAI) and the Government Digital Service (GDS), with The Alan Turing Institute’s public policy programme contributing, asserts that uses for AI in the public sector must be balanced with ethical, fairness and safety considerations.
Ex-Downing Street adviser’s trust to give up its schools
Floreat Education Academies Trust, which was set up by a former government minister, has announced that both its schools will join GLF Schools. The trust was founded by James O'Shaughnessy, a former 10 Downing Street aide to David Cameron who later became a health minister in the House of Lords. Floreat had previously looked at merging with another trust in 2016, because of the financial challenges of running a small academy trust of primary schools. A spokesperson said Floreat’s parent charity would not be wound up, and would instead “use its remaining resources to support the schools as they grow to full capacity”.
Charity questions spy kid policy
The Home Office faces a legal challenge from Just for Kids Law, with the charity saying police are putting children at risk by using them as spies to investigate gangs and dangerous criminals. The charity will tell the High Court that the activity lacks safeguards and contravenes human rights laws.
High Court orders winding up of housing charity
Thrift Urban Housing Limited is to be wound up after the High Court approved a petition from the Charity Commission. Judge Jones ruled: “I would have viewed this petition from a different angle had completely new trustee/directors been appointed […] This has not happened, but that approach adds to the reasons I rely upon when deciding it is just and equitable to wind up the charity”. Meanwhile, Amy Spiller, head of investigations team at the Commission, remarked: “Organisations that enjoy the privilege of charitable status should be run with probity and respect.”
Secondary teachers to get mental health training
Secondary teachers are to receive training on how to recognise the warning signs for depression and anxiety as part of a government-funded mental health drive. Over 1,800 schools and colleges will receive the training, as part of the latest phase of the mental health awareness training. The new phase of training will take place in 130 locations across England and will be delivered by mental health charity the Anna Freud Centre. The sessions will also address common mental health problems that teachers are likely to confront in schools. “It’s about ensuring that you have a robust mental health and wellbeing policy in place, and giving teachers skills to go back to their settings and set that up,” commented Davina Metters, head of programming in mental health in the school's team at the Anna Freud Centre.
Fundraising staff can be protected from sexual harassment
Stephanie Smith, director of income generation and marketing at Chestnut Tree House and St Barnabas House hospices in Sussex, explores how protocols to protect nurses from harassment at hospices can be applied to workers in the fundraising sector. She cites the reporting methods and safeguards nurses seek from their employer and through the Royal College of Nursing as inspiration for how fundraisers could be better protected.
Tags used to prove addicts capable parents
Substance misuse charity Change Grow Live, in partnership with Blackburn with Darwen Council, has been offering free, voluntary use of alcohol-tracking ankle tags to vulnerable addicts who have had their children removed by social services due to substance misuse and chaotic lifestyles. The devices allow them to prove that they are capable of caring for their children, and key workers now say the scheme should be rolled out across the UK.
Starbucks to trial reusable cups at Gatwick
Starbucks is launching a reusable coffee cup trial at its Gatwick Airport branch, in partnership with the environmental charity Hubbub. The trial will provide customers at Starbucks with the option to borrow a free reusable cup which they can drop off at a designated point before boarding their flight. The aim is to put 2,000 reusable Starbucks cups in circulation in the south terminal in an attempt to cut waste and tackle the "throwaway" culture. Last year Starbucks became the first UK coffee chain to introduce a 5p charge on paper cups to encourage reuse. Trewin Restorick, chief executive and co-founder of Hubbub, said: "We want to find out whether people will get on board with reusing cups if we make it easy and convenient. The airport is the ideal environment to trial a reusable cup scheme as it has the potential to reduce large volumes of paper cup waste."
Royal Mail rolls out digital missing people alerts
Charity Missing People has partnered with Royal Mail to deliver "missing people alerts" via postal workers' handheld digital devices. Since the initiative was launched, 120,000 postal workers in the UK have received alerts that a missing person could be in their area and Royal Mail’s Director of Public Affairs & Policy, David Gold, said: "Families waiting for news have told us how much of a comfort and encouragement it is to know that postal workers are helping in the search for their loved ones."
Young carers miss out on education
Half of young carers drop out of education, a new study by Barnardo's has revealed. Of the country's estimated 800,000 carers under 17, 10% say the pressure of looking after loved ones meant they had to quit secondary school. A quarter said that their role stopped them going to university while a further 15% said being a carer led to them dropping out of further or higher education. Some 67% said the role made them feel tired in lessons; 73% took time off learning, while a third missed school most weeks. Emma James from Barnardo's said: "These are forgotten children who are being isolated from their peers as they struggle with school and their own mental health."
Nurseries in deprived areas 'face closure over funding gap'
A shortfall in government funding means some nurseries in England's poorest areas are facing closure, a charity has said. A report by the Early Years Alliance (EYA) found 17% of childcare providers surveyed in the most deprived areas of the country "anticipate closure in the next twelve months". The survey of more than 350 nurseries and childminders found 43% of providers had been forced to cut back on learning resources and 19% said they had lowered the quality of food they gave to children." How much bigger does the early years funding shortfall have to grow before the government acts?", Neil Leitch, chief executive of the EYA, asked.
Charity concerned by lack of parent-infant mental health teams
A new report claims families where young children are at risk of developing mental health problems because their parents are struggling face a “shocking” lack of help from the NHS. The charity Parent Infant Partnership (PIP) UK found that only a handful of health service bodies across the UK had a specialist parent-infant relationship team to help children in households where there was domestic violence, substance misuse or a parent who was mentally ill. PIP has established there are just 27 specialist teams across more than 200 local NHS bodies in the UK. An in-depth study of children’s mental health published by NHS Digital last November revealed that one in 18 children of pre-school age in England had at least one mental health disorder such as anxiety or depression.
What’s in a middle name?
A blue plaque marking the location of a school in which the founder of Save the Children taught has been revealed to be using the wrong name. The sign, honouring charity founder Eglantyne Jebb, was unveiled in Marlborough in 1996 by Princess Anne, but a researcher from Marlborough News spotted that the full name given in the sign – Eglantyne Mary Jebb – was incorrect, as Ms Jebb never had a middle name. A replacement plaque has now been installed, part-funded by Marlborough News.