The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has a statutory objective to ensure trustees comply with their legal obligations in managing charities and to promote public trust and confidence in charities more generally. We also have a statutory function to identify and investigate abuse and mismanagement in charities. We will do this in a number of ways through our compliance work:
All concerns will be referred to our Assessment Unit which applies the risk and proportionality framework for compliance work to decide the most appropriate and proportionate course of action.
Most problems in charities can be resolved by the charity trustees themselves, or simply by the Commission providing advice and guidance and without the need for us to open an investigation. However, where serious problems exist we may need to investigate this further. The Commission carries out two kinds of investigations: Non statutory investigations called Regulatory Compliance Cases and Statutory Inquiries. This section explains the circumstances in which we will open an investigation and what happens when we do so.
To regulate a diverse sector as effectively as possible we are building effective strategic and operational relationships with a range of other regulators, law enforcement and other government departments. Whilst we vigorously protect our independence, effective collaboration and joined up working is essential to effective regulation.
Regulatory oversight is one way in which we will investigate concerns about abuse and non-compliance in the sector. Our regulatory supervision and monitoring work will include appropriate and targeted scrutiny of accounts and ensuring actions trustees have promised to carry out to deal with problems have been completed.
An important part of our role is to help charities protect themselves by raising awareness of the risks to the sector and compliance requirements, and by providing targeted advice, guidance and support.
The Charity Commission has produced a useful report, “One hundred lessons to be learned”, following the 100th concern that it received in January 2012.
The report has been produced as a guide for charities, flagging up the common mistakes that have prompted many of the concerns about charities received by the Commission. The report is intended to benefit the charity sector by highlighting recurring problems within charities and helping them to get the basics right.