22 June 2011
Sam Younger, chief executive of the Charity Commission, says that the Commission would be urging charities to join umbrella bodies wherever possible.
Speaking at the annual conference of the Community Foundation Network, Sam Younger said that charity networks and umbrella groups can help raise standards of governance within the sector and support the Commission’s regulatory role.
He said networks benefit individual charities and also serve to increase public trust and confidence in the sector as a whole.
Pointing to the example of the Community Foundation movement, Sam Younger said:
“Encouraging trust requires joint effort between individual charities, the networks you form and the Commission as regulator. And that demands strong relationships between charities and their umbrella bodies. The Community Foundation movement is a good example of that relationship working. […]. We can contact one charity – CFN – in the knowledge that it can reach individual members more easily, quickly, and efficiently than we can. In an age of austerity, when we are adjusting to budget cuts of a third over four years, that kind of multiplyer effect is of huge value. We’re now encouraging other groups of charities to develop similar relationships with their umbrella bodies.
During his speech on Wednesday 22 June, Sam Younger also warned charities not to ignore public opinion on charity spending:
“I think many umbrella groups are nervous about raising the issue of the proportion of income charities spend on administrative costs. I sometimes get the impression the sector is scared that, if the public knew that they spend money on systems and salaries, they’d stop giving. There is evidence to suggest that people care about efficiency […] But I would argue that the way to respond to that is not for charities to pretend there isn’t an issue. I have become aware of a slight tendency among charities to dismiss peoples’ preoccupation with money as proof that they simply don’t understand. My plea to the sector would be to have faith in your ability to make the public understand.”
Speaking about the Commission’s strategic review, Sam Younger said that changes at regulator are partly aimed at increasing the self-reliance of charity trustees:
“We need to give trustees a greater sense of confidence that they know what is right for their charities. That, so long as they follow our guidance, and consult professional advice where relevant, they can trust their own best judgement. We will therefore be doing less ‘hand-holding’ of trustees. We’ll be moving away from interactions with charities whose purpose is simply to provide reassurance that the decisions they’re about to make are ‘legit’.
The full speech is available on the Charity Commission website.
For further information on this story, please contact the press office.
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