Over 280 concerns about charities received by Commission

Northern Ireland’s charity regulator has received over 280 concerns about charities since gaining its investigatory powers three years ago.

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, which gained its powers of investigation in February 2011, has revealed that it has received 284 concerns about charities– an average of eight concerns a month - in the past three years.

The new figures were announced as the Commission launched its latest report, Latest lessons learned from concerns about charities, providing anonymous examples and key advice from some of the common concerns about charities.

Frances McCandless, Commission Chief Executive, commented: "The majority of concerns we receive involve minor governance issues, easily put right with the correct advice or guidance from the Commission.

"That’s why reports such as Latest lessons learned are so important, as they take common issues from those concerns and provide advice and information to help charities get their governance right from the start.

"One of the issues identified are payments and expenses for trustees, with the report providing guidance on how to ensure you are following the right practices when tendering for contracts or paying out-of-pocket costs to trustees.

"Other areas we have looked at include recruiting staff and charity property, for example buying or leasing property, which are just some of the key governance areas which trustees should be aware of."

Of the 284 concerns the Commission had received by the end of February 2014, 232 have now been concluded with 52 remaining under investigation - including some cases which have seen the Commission use its more stringent powers.

This includes the authority to instigate a statutory inquiry in cases of serious and substantial risk to the assets or beneficiaries of a charity, taking the appropriate remedial action at that level.

Ms McCandless continued: "In line with our key values of proportionality, fairness, independence, transparency and consistency, we assess every concern we receive and take action appropriate to the level of risk involved.

"This means that, while most concerns involve minor infractions, there are occasions when the concerns we receive are more serious and we have to take stronger action in order to protect the charity.

"However, no matter what the concern, one thing is clear – the people of Northern Ireland feel very strongly about their charities, supporting them with money, time and skills, along with their trust.

"As the concerns we receive show, that trust can easily be damaged. We hope this report will help support trustees in making the right choices and putting in place good governance practices."

Please use the links below to read or download the Commission’s report:

If you have a concern about a charity operating in Northern Ireland, you can contact the Commission and raise a confidential concern about the operation of that charity. Please click here for more information on submitting a concern.

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