Charity Resources: A Trilogy of… Lots?

‘I may not have gone where I intended to go,
but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.’

‘I love deadlines.
I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.’

‘DON’T PANIC!’

I am a fan of Douglas Adams.

He was a great author, writer, humorist, and all round good egg.

So in honour, of Douglas Adams famous Trilogy in Five Parts, I’m starting my own trilogy, on Charity Resources.

And whilst it might  not be as funny as Hitchhikers, it does share a certain ambiguous numeracy. In that I’ve no idea how many there will be. 42 might be appropriate?

But, following Douglas Adam’s lead, I’m going to start at the beginning. And hope that this won’t be regarded as a bad move.

My first Charity Resource page is on charity law.

I hope this series will be helpful.

But as the great man once said:

“You live and learn.
At any rate, you live.”

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Governance Workshop 14th November 2013

Governance Workshop Thurs 14th November 2013

I am delighted to invite you to our Governance Workshop!

Governance Workshop Info – November 2013

We are partnering with the Charity Commission to host this event. The details are:

Date: Thursday14th November 2013 from 10am to 3:30pm
Venue: Ascension Trust, Alpha House, Alpha Place, Garth Road, London SM4 4TQ
Cost: £15 with lunch provided for every person.

The Workshop is designed to help local charity trustees, staff and volunteers better understand the role of a trustee, the importance of good governance, the various legal, financial and policy issues to consider, and it will be a chance to meet and talk with various local trustees about their personal experiences.

Highlights include:Charity Tax Group

Rev Les Isaac OBE, CEO, Ascension Trust speaking about Trustees as Leaders; Contributions from the Charity Commission and Charity Tax Group; and AT General Counsel, Andrew MacKay, covering legal and policy issues.

Here are some of the reviews from the last Workshop:

“I found the last workshop very helpful and definitely worth investing the time to attend.”

“It was very helpful and something that would be of benefit to all trustees, especially if they have had little or no involvement as trustees in other charities. It provided a good overview. I think it was run extremely well and each session valuable.”

“It was well organised, good food. It was interactive which I think is great giving people time to digest the information being presented and reinforce it through discussion.”

For more information, just email a.mackay@ascensiontrust.org.uk, tweet @BetterCharity or call 0208 330 2809.

I look forward to seeing you there,

Andrew

OSCR’s gone Wilde! Interesting developments with the Scottish Charity Regulator

I’ve always been a fan of Oscar Wilde, the enigmatic poet, playwright, polemic and prisoner.  How can you not love his caustic wit and winsome charm:

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”

“Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.”

The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it…

But my favourite Victorian writer is not the only Oscar causing a stir from time to time: OSCR, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, is finally considering publishing some charity accounts on its online Register of Charities.

Interestingly, there are some key differences between the English/Welsh and Scottish charity regulators.

In England and Wales, the Charity Commission only registers charities when they have a regular annual income of more than £5,000, before which they are unregistered charities, but charities nevertheless; whereas in Scotland, if you aren’t registered with OSCR you ain’t a charity full stop.

In England and Wales, the definition of a charity is contained in the Charities Act 2006; whereas in Scotland, the definition  of a charity is contained in the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005; both quite riveting reads.

But a much more practical difference is that the Charity Commission does include a charity’s accounts on their site, while OSCR provides much less financial information on its register.

However, OSCR is now considering a consultation with the sector about publishing some charity accounts on its website. The reason given is the improving quality of Scottish charities’ accounts since 2006.

This is surely a good thing.

It is vital for the public trust in the third sector for charities to be as transparent, open and honest as possible, and to be seen as fully accountable for the sums they have received.

Checking how a charity has spent its money is a key part of this process.

And this is even more critical in light of the recent media furores about the extent of charity overheads, the level of charity’s chief executive pay and remuneration, and the salary paid to William Shawcross, the Charity Commission Chair.

So I would generally welcome this development.

The publication of charity accounts on OSCR’s website is needed. In an era of increasingly savvy donors, interested trusts and foundations, and attentive media, it is time for Scotland to follow best practice from England and Wales.

And as the great man so helpfully put it:

We are all in the gutter, but only some of us are looking up at the accounts…

To read more visit the OSCR website, or view a helpful Civil Society article.

Procastination is the thief of… timely funds.

I have a confession to make.

I am not a morning person.

As a serial procrastinator, when my alarm goes off, my first instinct is always to ignore it.  Not to hit snooze. Not to switch it off. Just to hope it goes away.  And that the sun-rising thing is just some cosmic mis-scheduled event that will get sorted out in the next few minutes.

The most effective trick I’ve found for my ante meridiem woe?

Having baby. Problem solved.

I now no longer struggle to get up in the mornings, as my little guy wakes up at 6am on the dot, and makes his wakefulness abundantly clear.

But procrastination is not just the thief of time.

A new study out today from the Directory of Social Change suggests that more than half of grant-making trusts check the filing history of charities with the Charity Commission.

Which means that if you are struggling to get those reports in on time, you might be missing out on more than the vague sense of approval of Sam Younger, Charity Commission CEO.

You could be missing out on vital funding.

And in this cash strapped season, that is not a wise move.

So my advice to all charities would be have a baby.

Or set sufficient calendar reminders, and plan ahead to ensure that your Charity Commission reports are drafted and approved by trustees in good time.

Either works.

Governance Workshop Thurs 16th May 2013

Dear friend,

Governance Workshop Thurs 16th May 2013

I am delighted to invite you to our Governance Workshop!

We are partnering with the Charity Commission to host this event.  The details are:

Date: Thursday 16th May 2013 from 10am to 3:30pm
Venue: Ascension Trust, Alpha House, Alpha Place, Garth Road, London SM4 4TQ
Cost: £15 with lunch provided for every person.

The Workshop is designed to help local charity trustees, staff and volunteers better understand the role of a trustee, the importance of good governance, the various legal, financial and policy issues to consider, and it will be a chance to meet and talk with various local trustees about their personal experiences.

Highlights include:
Rev Les Isaac OBE, CEO, Ascension Trust speaking about Trustees as Leaders
Graham Divers, the Charity Commission speaking about Good Governance
Andrew MacKay, AT Legal and Policy Advisor, covering legal and policy issues.

Here are some of the reviews from the last Workshop:

“I found the last workshop very helpful and definitely worth investing the time to attend.”

“It was very helpful and something that would be of benefit to all trustees, especially if they have had little or no involvement as trustees in other charities. It provided a good overview. I think it was run extremely well and each session valuable.”

“It was well organised, good food. It was interactive which I think is great giving people time to digest the information being presented and reinforce it through discussion.”

For more information, just visit the Ascension Trust website, email policy@ascensiontrust.org.uk or call 0208 330 2809.

I look forward to seeing you there,

Best regards,

Andrew

CIOs: we’re finally there!

It’s finally arrived.

Many thought this day may never come.

Many found the waiting hard.

But the present is on its way, and the Big Day is almost upon us…

No, not Christmas, but the day the Charity Commission finally accepts applications for CIO registration.

For those of you who don’t know, the Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) is a new legal form for a charity which has been expected for a number of years now.

CIOs holds the advantage over current legal forms for charities in England and Wales, by being incorporated (unlike unincorporated associations and charitable trusts) but being regulated only once (by the Charity Commission alone, unlike charitable companies which have to register with the company regulator, Companies House).

This means that CIOs provide added protection for charity trustees, by allowing the CIO itself as a legal person to enter contracts, sign leases, employ staff etc, instead of the charity trustees themselves.

And it also means that CIOs involve less admin and cost, because CIOs don’t have to additionally register with Companies House, and file annual accounts, returns, change of detail forms etc, unlike current charitable companies.

The Charity Commission will start accepting applications to register completely new organisations that wish to be CIOs from today, 10 December 2012. As I warned previously, current charities will have to wait a little longer.

Please note that although the Charity Commission will accept applications from 10 December, they cannot register CIOs until 2 January 2013.

For more information, visit the Charity Commission website, or email me: andrewkmackay[at]gmail.com or @BetterCharity.