Friday, 23 June 2017

Charity Commission Compliance, Monitoring and Investigation - latest stats published

The Charity Commission has just published its latest set of statistics analysing its casework. The analysis is broken down according to the information supplied by charities on their annual returns - such as their purpose, beneficiaries, income and years on the register.

This seems to be done primarily as a monitoring process to check that the Commission is being even handed in its casework across the whole gamut of the charity sector.

The present and past statistics can be found on the Commissions site here.

They give some interesting insight into the problems that charities encounter, from failure to comply with statutory reporting duties (some 1172 cases opened in the last year) to more serious breaches of charity law calling forth monitoring (435 cases) or full blown investigations (187 cases).

From the statistics it appears that older charities are more prone to have problems than newer ones - with 64% of the compliance issues and 33% of the monitoring cases being related to charities over ten years old - perhaps a reflection upon 'we have always done it this way' not necessarily being the 'right way'....

The size of a charity seems to have less impact than its age. Though charities with incomes over £500k make up 42% of the compliance cases, there is a fairly equal spread across the other casework categories, Small charities, with turnovers under £25k, which you would perhaps expect to be well represented due to capacity issues in meeting the regularity requirement, form less than a fifth of compliance and less then a tenth of investigation cases, though they do form a quarter of all monitoring cases.

But perhaps what the statistics most suggest is that all charities, serving all types of beneficiaries and working in all different sectors are prone to experience difficulties in complying with charity law at some point. This is nothing to be ashamed off, as long as the problem that caused it is addressed to prevent non compliance turning into monitoring and a full blown inquiry that carries sanction.

Meet the Charity Commission

The Charity Commission is holding its next public meeting on the 29th June 2017 at the Cardiff City Stadium.
William Shawcross (Chairman) and Eryl Besse (Deputy Chairman) will be there to open the meeting, which will include a presentation from the Chief Operating Officer, David Holdsworth, on the digital transformation of the Commission. 
The meeting will focus on guiding trustees and their charities through data and digital challenges, will provide updates on key guidance for trustees, and will highlight important lessons arising from the Commission's casework. 
The event is free of charge and charity trustees, employees and advisers are urged to attend.
You can register to attend through Eventbrite
Places are limited and will be allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis and are limited to 2 attendees per organisation
For more details see the Commission's website here.

Monday, 19 June 2017


We will be coming to Knighton on:

Tuesday 27th June 2017
10.30 am - 2 pm
Knighton Community Support Offices

Appointments must be booked by phoning 01597 822191.

Hope to see you there.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Introducing PAVO's new Thriving Third Sector Development Officer.

Following the departure of Sally Yigit from PAVO at the beginning of April, a new officer has been appointed to deliver the Thriving Third Sector programme, which aims to assist voluntary organisations across Powys tackle issues of governance and sustainability.

The new post holder is Nick Venti, who has worked extensively in the Third Sector in Powys over the past fourteen years, both as a project officer on a number of community projects and as a trustee and director of local charities and third sector organisations.


Nick's role is primarily to facilitate a process of organisational review. This can mean looking at how an organisation functions against its governing document or the make up and sustainability of the trustee board. Does the need for which the organisation was originally set up still exist - or has it achieved its aim or been diverted away from delivering against its primary purpose? It can mean looking at the financial arrangements of the organisation to ensure that it has strategies in place to meet its costs. Or it could be a case of preparing an organisation for new challenges, such as taking on the delivery of new services, or the running of a community asset.

Whatever the potential challenges facing an organisation, the project aims to provide proactive help that will allow trustees and directors see their way to managed solutions, preferably before real problems develop.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of your organisations governance or sustainability, or are simple interested in taking an organisational health check, then contacting Nick is a good place to start.

He can be reached on 01686 626 220 or via e-mail at:

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

RSPCA - no charity is too big to get into trouble

Following the loss of their chief executive officer last week, the RSPCA is coming under fire from the Charity Commission, which is warning the charity that it needs to urgently improve its governance or face regulatory action.

The full story of what is happening at one of Britain's biggest charities can be found at Civil Society News, but in short it is clear that the governance of the organisation is falling below expected standards.

It appears that the charity have been trying to grapple with its problems, having recently commissioned a review in order 'to ensure that the governance structure is fit for purpose and best placed to face the challenges of the future.'

The review, undertaken on behalf of the society by Crowe Clarke Whitehall LLP, has some interesting conclusions that throw light on the difficulties all organisations experience in managing change.

  • The Society is facing much change and with any change effort there are often many sensitivities and tensions to be aware of. 
  • It is clear from those we interviewed and spoke to that this Governance Review has generated high expectations and perhaps some nervousness.
  • There is a perception that there has been little constructive action and poor follow through on past initiatives.
  • Individuals must be ready to do this (draw a line under the perceived problems of the past) and move on, focusing on building the “modern governance structure”. 
  • This requires people to look forward rather than at the past and to put aside the issues of the past. 
  • The tone at the top is very important and if the Society is to really benefit from this review Council must work together cohesively and accept differences of opinion, build trust and respect amongst its members and with management.

In conducting the review, the consultants engaged with the Society's Trustees around the Hallmarks of an Effective Charity, the Charity Commission guidance that 'sets out the standards that will help trustees to improve the effectiveness of their charity.

The six hallmarks are:

  1. Clear about its purposes and direction - An effective charity is clear about its purposes, mission and values and uses them to direct all aspects of its work.
  2.  A strong board - An effective charity is run by a clearly identifiable board or trustee body that has the right balance of skills and experience, acts in the best interests of the charity and its beneficiaries, understands its responsibilities and has systems in place to exercise them properly.
  3. Fit for purpose - The structure, policies and procedures of an effective charity enable it to achieve its purposes and mission and deliver its services efficiently.
  4. Learning and improving - An effective charity is always seeking to improve its performance and efficiency, and to learn new and better ways of delivering its purposes. A charity’s assessment of its performance, and of the impact and outcomes of its work, will feed into its planning processes and will influence its future direction.
  5. Financially sound and prudent - An effective charity has the financial and other resources needed to deliver its purposes and mission, and controls and uses them so as to achieve its potential.
  6. Accountable and transparent - An effective charity is accountable to the public and others with an interest in the charity in a way that is transparent and understandable.

The Society's Trustees and senior leadership team were asked to score the Society against the Hallmarks, and this was followed up by a survey of the Society's membership who were asked to score their perceptions of the charities performance against key assertions from the Hallmarks.

The importance of having yardsticks or 'Hallmarks' against which to self assess performance is clear. and PAVO has developed its own organisational 'Health Check' - the Here and Now tool - which can provide a focus for reflection around organisational governance, finance, planning,strategy and communications.

The moral of this story is that all organisations - whatever their size - are well advised to reflect on their performance, and preferably before the wheels start coming off the waggon...

If you would like to talk to PAVO about undertaking the Here and Now tool within your organisation, contact our development team on 01597 822 191

Friday, 2 June 2017

A well run charity does not need to build up large reserves – it needs to manage its strategic risks well.

Whenever a charity fails, there are comments that the reserves were inadequate. Measures often relate the level of reserves to the income of the charity. But this is based on the false premise that reserve levels should be based on a formula, whereas the reserves policy should be based on the risks facing the charity.

Click here to read the entire article

Charities spend too little on necessary support for staff

Spend on need, not perception

"Trustees and management have often shied away from making investment decisions because they believe that it will impact negatively on how they are perceived," the report says. “This is due to the misleading belief that charities can be measured and compared by looking at their expenditure and the income raised.
“This belief has resulted in underinvestment in vital areas such as information technology, skills training, income generating processes and governance and management. Charities are also to blame by perpetuating the myth that reduced overheads mean the charity is more effective. This leads to a vicious cycle of underinvestment and this can actually lead to a deterioration in a charity’s performance.
"Charities should be ready to make the necessary investment in infrastructure based on what is needed rather than how it may be perceived."