Regulator bans trustees who used funds to go on holiday
Two former trustees of an animal charity have been banned from holding senior charity roles after using the organisation’s money improperly, including to pay for a holiday. The Chichester and District Dog Rescue Society operates in East Sussex and Hampshire and aims to care and support stray and unwanted dogs in these areas. The Charity Commission was first alerted to problems at the charity by an independent examiner in March 2017, who had found discrepancies in its bookkeeping. New trustees are now in place at the charity. Amy Spiller, Head of Investigations Team at the Charity Commission, said: "Trustees are under an obligation to act in the best interests of their charity – by handling donations with care and stewarding funds towards the good cause they serve. The former trustees of this charity failed to deliver on this expectation – they were reckless with the charity’s money and used funds f or their own personal expenses. This almost cost the charity’s future and will have let down people who trusted this charity to help a cause they care about." Separately, Civil Society reports that nearly 7,000 people have petitioned the Charity Commission and the RSPCA to investigate how a dog rescue and rehoming charity is being run. The petition on Change.org claims that Animal Lifeline has unfairly turned down offers to rehome animals from the centre. The charity says the campaign has been orchestrated by an disgruntled individual who was informed that they could not provide a suitable home for a dog.
Regulator to probe footballers' charity
The Charity Commission has launched an inquiry into the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) following concerns about the charity's relationship with its trade union. In November 2018, the regulator opened a regulatory compliance case to explore concerns raised about the charity’s relationship with the PFA trade union and their management of conflicts of interest. Despite extensive engagement with the trustees and other parties since then, the Commission maintains serious concerns. The inquiry will examine the charity’s relationship and transactions with other bodies and whether they are in the best interests of the charity and whether the charity’s activities have been exclusively charitable and for the public benefit, among other issues.
Fewer charities in England's most deprived areas
A new report suggests that there are fewer charities in the most deprived areas of England. The report from New Philanthropy Capital (NPC), Where are England's charities?, says areas of England that are struggling economically, and which are typically located in post-industrial or coastal regions, are home to fewer charitable organisations. The report observes that necessary resources to set up and run a charity, including access to finance and volunteers, and specialist ‘civic’ skills, may be in shorty supply in deprived areas. Leah Davis, NPC's head of policy, said larger charities have a role to play. "Larger charities can support the smaller ones across the country by sharing resources and expertise, or by working with communities to form new groups. And funders can make their data available on platforms like 360Giving, so others can better target their giving as well, and fund for the long-term so communities have a better chance of sustained change," she said.
Consultation on responsible investment is launched
A consultation has been launched by the Charity Commission into responsible investment and how investments can be aligned with the aims of charitable organisations. A blog post by Sian Hawkrigg, strategic policy adviser at the regulator, notes a growing desire among the public for transparency and an interest in “not just in what a charity achieves, but how it behaves along the way.” The Commission says some charities already have responsible or ethical investment policies, but it is keen to “ensure that others are not shying away from this due to a lack of awareness or the area being seen as too difficult”. Civil Society notes that charities including NCVO, RSPB, ClientEarth, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Nesta, Ashden Trust and Access, alongside law firm Bates Wells, formed a coalition last year to seek a legal ruling on responsible investment. Luke Fletcher, a Partner at Bates Wells, said that the regulator's launch of a consultation “seems a really positive move and direction of travel” - but he cautioned that there “are some underlying tensions in this area.”
Animal charity and non-profits listed on counter-terror guide
Animal Aid, Greenpeace, PETA and Extinction Rebellion are among organisations included in a counter-terrorism police guide. The guide produced by Counter Terrorism Policing also lists neo-Nazi and far-right groups such as Britain First and Make Britain Great Again. Elisa Allen, PETA’s director, said: “This appears to be a sinister attempt to quash legitimate campaigning organisations – something that is as dangerous as it is undemocratic. The animal protection movement is a mainstream movement made up of thousands of organisations and millions of people from around the world who stand up against the exploitation and mistreatment of animals.” A spokesperson for Animal Aid said: “The inclusion of Animal Aid in this guidance, alongside other peaceful organisations, shows a fundamental lack of understanding of animal protection campaigning. It is imperative that th is damaging document is immediately withdrawn, and its content completely overhauled so that peaceful, progressive groups are not included within it."
Charity Film Awards 2020 shortlist is announced
The Charity Film Awards 2020 shortlist from public voting has been revealed, with 125 charities listed, and includes entries from We are Sunshine People, Coppafeel!, Groundwork UK, CLIC Sargent, Muslim Aid, and Anthony Nolan. More than 65,000 members of the public voted for their favourite charity film and a panel of experts will now judge the shortlist. Simon Burton, co-founder of the Charity Film Awards, said: “The level of public engagement in the awards is spectacular and it is completely free of charge to the charities involved. The Awards give the truly creative films UK charities produce a context and shot of adrenaline resulting in a huge uplift in viewership, conversation and donations.”
Charities to benefit from £8.6m digital fund grants
Twenty charities have received £8.6m from The National Lottery Community Fund to improve and scale their digital services. Refugee Action, Relate, Citizen's Advice, Samaritans, Parkinson’s UK and Citizen’s Advice are among major charities who will use their share of the funds to either launch new digital projects or increase the impact of existing ones. Cassie Robinson, Head of Digital Grant Making at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “We’re delighted to be able to support this diverse set of organisations as they harness digital technology in creative and forward-thinking ways, to both transform the way they operate, and the way that services are delivered across the voluntary sector over the long-term.”
Charity Digital News Civil Society
Guidance to help with Charities Act reporting requirements
Guidance to help charities comply with the fundraising reporting requirements in the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016 has been published by the Fundraising Regulator. An analysis of over 100 annual reports filed with the Charity Commission found that only 40% of charities included a statement on fundraising that met the requirements of the Act. Lord Toby Harris, Chair of the Fundraising Regulator, said: “Although our review has highlighted a low level of compliance with The Charities Act 2016 in terms of fundraising statements, we recognise that this is the first year of reporting in this manner. We are committed to working with charities, especially those with lower fundraising budgets, to promote better practice in reporting and the importance of providing a comprehensive statement.” Fundraising Regulator CEO Gerald Oppenheim added: “This first year of reporting gives us valuable insight into common issues arising in charities’ fundraising statements.”
Criticism of royal info on charity patronages
Information held by Buckingham Palace on the Royal family's various charity patronages has been described as "inconsistent" and "incomplete." Caroline Fiennes from Giving Evidence, a research firm which wants charitable giving to be based on sound evidence, said there are “conflicting lists [of organisations which have a royal as their patron or president] on various websites” and information that is “markedly different.” Giving Evidence found it “extremely difficult to identify the patronages which are of UK registered charities,” she said, adding “We are still unable to isolate the UK registered charity patronages despite having now spent at least four-person-weeks on it. Hence the numbers often quoted in the press about the number of charities which various Royals are patrons are almost certainly wrong."
Does philanthropy work?
Oxfam GB chief executive Danny Sriskandarajah and Rhodri Davies, the Head of Policy at Charities Aid Foundation, are among those taking part in a BBC discussion about the relative merits of philanthropy and whether the rich give more of their money to the state instead of charitable foundations.
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