Charity communications professionals aren't representative of demographics
A report from CharityComms says the charity sector’s communication and digital roles are overwhelmingly white and educated to graduate level, and people of colour are more likely to experience harassment at work. The 2019 Salary and Organisational Culture Report found that 93% of communications professionals in the sector are white, and people of colour are typically paid less. The survey, which polled 668 sector communication professionals, also found that 92% of people in such roles were educated at least to degree level. Elsewhere, people of colour in charity communicator roles are more than a third (39%) more likely to have experienced workplace harassment than their white peers. Digital consultant Zoe Amar said: “Not only is it harder for charities to attract people of colour, but they are more likely to be unhappy in their roles, and to look outside of the sector for their next job. We canno t afford to lose talent like this.” Meanwhile, #NonGraduatesWelcome, a campaign that is urging charities to look beyond formal qualifications when hiring, has launched its manifesto and website. “In its place we want charities to be clearer with applicants about the skills, abilities, knowledge and experience needed to be successful in the role, empowering applicants to decide how best to demonstrate their suitability,” the manifesto states.
Charities fear they lack funds to meet objectives
A study by charity investment managers Brewin Dolphin suggests political uncertainty and economic downturn have contributed to charities fearing they can't meet objectives. The Charity Investment: navigating uncertain times report suggests charities aren't confident about their ability to generate the necessary income to meet their charitable targets at a time when they are being asked to achieve more after a decade of austerity. Ruth Murphy, head of charities at Brewin Dolphin, said: "Charities are being asked to take on more every year and cracks are beginning to show, particularly for small and medium-sized charities." She added: "Charities have long relied on their investments to provide much-needed income, but political uncertainty, the volatility in the markets and the threat of a global recession very much preys on trustees’ minds.
Funders must show confidence in small charities
A report from the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) says funders should demonstrate confidence in smaller charities, build long-term relationships and create an atmosphere of honesty to help instil resilience. Beth Clarke at CAF said of the How funders can do more to support the resilience of small charities report: “We see the programme as a stepping stone in a wider campaign, one that encourages small charities to have a more prominent voice with funders, charitable trusts and the government.” Five core recommendations for funders are outlined in the report, and Clarke added "In uncertain times, organisational resilience has perhaps never been more crucial for small charities across the UK.” Meanwhile, Small Charities Coalition CEO Rita Chadha said: “This is a vitally important and essential read for both funders and small charities . . . In focusing on resilience, and forcing funders to 'show more confidence' in small charities, the report makes a welcome and vital contribution to helping to level the playing field between big and small charities.”
Poll reveals popular perceptions of fundraising as a career
Institute of Fundraising research on public perceptions of fundraising suggests that more than half (57%) of the UK public would be proud to work in the charity sector but only a quarter would be interested in working in fundraising. The Perceptions of fundraising as a career survey found that the main reasons people would not consider fundraising as a career are because the work doesn’t interest them (cited by 35% of respondents) and because they are happy in their current career (31%). Remuneration was cited as an issue for 22% of respondents, and 28% said they didn't think a career in fundraising offered the potential to earn a good income.
Thursday is Gift Aid Awareness Day
The second annual Gift Aid Awareness Day, organised by Charity Finance Group, takes place on Thursday (October 3rd). The aim of the day is to help charities encourage more donors to Gift Aid their eligible donations.
Surge in whistleblowing complaints to the Charity Commission
Whistleblowing disclosures to the Charity Commission have surged in the last two years, according to a report from the regulator. A total of 185 whistleblowing reports were received between April 1st 2018 and March 31st 2019, up 83% on the 101 disclosures received in 2017-18. The most-reported issues in 2018-19 were safeguarding, governance, and fraud or money-laundering. Terrorism and charities being set up for improper use were also widespread causes for whistleblower concern. The Commission's report states: “Whilst we cannot be certain, this increase is likely to have been influenced by the high-profile nature of safeguarding incidents emerging from the charity sector this year, which may have encouraged others to come forward with concerns.” Volunteers are now included in a broadened definition of whistleblower. “We have a regulatory interest in encouraging people on the inside of charity to report their serious concerns to us so that we are better able to detect problems in charities. For this reason, during the year we began to treat charity volunteers as well as charity workers as whistleblowers, where appropriate . . . It’s a significant change that extends our ability to identify serious concerns that we need to act on," the report explained.
Housing charity receives official warning
An official warning has been given to Bristol Sheltered Accommodation and Support (BSAS) by the Charity Commission. The regulator said the charity “let down” its residents “over a long period of time.” Five residents have died at a property managed by the charity since 2014. The Charity Commission identified weaknesses in the charity’s records which meant the trustees “could not evidence having discussed and addressed serious safeguarding incidents, including the deaths of residents, appropriately.” Amy Spiller, head of investigations at the Commission, said: “It’s clear from our investigation that this charity was mismanaged over a long period of time, and that its trustees repeatedly disregarded regulatory advice and were receiving unauthorised payments. All charities should be managed with care and probity, and residents of Wick House and their families have been let down. We have held the charity to account for these failings."
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Guides launched to help tackle trustee conflict
A series of guides has been published by the Association of Chairs (AoC) to help charity chairs tackle trustee conflict and manage board relationships more effectively. The Working with trustees guides are in response to feedback from chairs who says their biggest challenges are getting the best out of a “disparate group of individuals” and managing conflict. AoC chief executive Ros Oakley said: “When trustees fail to work together well, governance and the charity suffer. But building really strong working relationships around the board table is challenging, and up to now there has been little help. These new guides fill that gap and are full of practical suggestions and ideas for Chairs. Building strong relationships among board members helps them be more resilient when the going gets tough and in good times helps unleash their potential for bold and creative leadership.”
App aims to help charities partner with businesses
The Fundr app seeks to help charities identify corporate partnership opportunities. The platform allows charities to search around 500 continually updated opportunities and offers filtering by region, key dates, value of the partnership and details about the nature of support being offered. Fundr co-founder Adam McKenzie says: “Fundr has been created specifically for fundraisers and my hope is that it becomes a vital extra tool that supports them to focus their efforts and find their ideal charity partner.”
New guidance on campaigning for charities
New guidance for charities about campaigning in the run-up to elections and referendums has been published by the Electoral Commission, which has been working on the new guidance since 2018. Charities have previously complained that a lack of clarity on rules has contributed to them feeling silenced during pre-election periods. Douglas Dowell, policy manager from NCVO, has written: "The Electoral Commission’s guidance on what electoral law means for your campaigning in the run-up to an election hasn't been clear or reassuring enough. As a result, it's made lots of charities think the rules are more restrictive than they actually are." Karl Wilding, chief executive of NCVO, observed: "This new guidance provides much greater clarity for charities and should make it clearer that charities can campaign with confidence. Although there are still issues which we believe need changes to the legislation itse lf, we a re very please that the Electoral Commission has taken our feedback on board and done what it can within current electoral law to address many of the concerns charities have expressed about their ability to campaign". Louise Edwards, the Electoral Commission's director of regulation, said: "We understand the challenges faced by organisations which don't regularly engage in political campaigning, and it's an important part of our role to support them in understanding how they can comply with the law. Campaigning is a vital part of the democratic process and we hope this guidance will enable groups to campaign with confidence all year-round".
Judge questions RSPCA’s future as a prosecutor
The RSPCA's future in bringing private prosecutions has been brought into question by a judge after the charity allegedly stoked a hate campaign against a man who failed to properly care for puppies. Mark Burgess, 39, received death threats and was ostracised in his community. The charity was accused by District Judge Justin Barron of issuing emotive, unbalanced and misleading publicity that had worsened the public's reaction, leading the judge to consider "whether the RSPCA should continue to conduct its own prosecutions." The criticism will revive debate over the charity bringing suspects to court rather than handing evidence to the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The RSPCA is regarded as the country's largest private prosecutor with convictions rising to 1,678 last year.