Almost 200 concerns received by charity regulator

Northern Ireland’s charity regulator, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, has received almost 200 concerns about charities since it first began investigating alleged mismanagement and misconduct in charities in February 2011.

Revealing its latest figures, the Commission today published a new report, Key lessons in charity governance, highlighting common themes behind recent concerns, as well as offering advice and guidance to charity trustees.

Tom McGrath, Chief Charity Commissioner, explained: "As our latest report shows, we are continuing to receive a steady stream of concerns about charities operating in Northern Ireland.

"These concerns cover a wide range of areas, from possible conflicts of interest and ensuring transparency in the decision making process through to queries around membership, fundraising and how to close a charity," Tom continued.

"We have found that most concerns can be resolved through self-regulation in the first instance, with the Commission providing best practice guidance or advice to the charity and, if necessary, monitoring the situation to ensure it is resolved.

"That’s where our Key lessons in charity governance report can help. As far as we can see, charities across Northern Ireland are doing a great job. Most are run well and are providing real benefits to their local community and to society as a whole.

"Our report is aimed at supporting that work by highlighting lessons learned from some of our investigations work to help charity trustees make the right decisions around common areas of concern."

On 18 February 2011, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland gained, for the first time, powers to investigate charities in Northern Ireland where a risk exists to a charity’s assets or beneficiaries, or to the reputation of the charitable sector as a whole.

The Commission subsequently received its first concern from a member of the public on 28 February 2011, going on to receive a further 116 concerns by the end of March 2012.

From 1 April 2012 to 31 May 2013, a further 78 concerns were submitted to the Commission’s investigations team, bringing the total number of concerns submitted by the end of May 2013 to 195.

The majority (179) of these concerns have been progressed to conclusion with 16 remaining under investigation at the end of May.

Aubrey McCrory, the Commission’s Head of Compliance and Corporate Services, gave an insight into the work of the investigations team.

He said: "We carry out an initial assessment of each concern we receive about a charity, which allows us to decide the best route to resolve the situation, based on the seriousness of the concern and the risk involved.

"Our experience has shown that most issues can be resolved by the charity trustees themselves, sometimes with the assistance of a mediation service or with guidance on the best way to resolve an issue or better manage their operations.

"However, our actions are measured to fit the seriousness and scale of what has occurred and, on the other end of the spectrum, we are conducting a number of more serious investigations, which relate to allegations of mismanagement within charities.

"There is no doubt that most charities in Northern Ireland are managed well and have a trusted place within their community but, on occasion, things can and do go wrong and that is where we can step in to help set things right and retain that trust."

For more information, including details of the types of concerns the Commission will investigate and how to complete and submit a Concerns Form, please visit

Read the Key lessons in charity governance report: (PDF, 484KB) (Word, 1.14MB)


For more information please contact Shirley Kernan, Charity Commission for Northern Ireland Communications Officer, on tel: 028 3832 0169, mobile: 07827338978 or email:

© Crown Copyright

© 2010 Crown Copyright          Copyright Notice, Disclaimer and Privacy Statement