Lessons on compliance through case reports

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Posted on 24 October 2017

The purpose of this blog is to introduce a new way of communicating our activity as a regulator: case reports. These are reports of our investigations into serious wrongdoing and breaches of the Charities Act, and reviews of charities’ eligibility for registration.

Being a charity means getting access to a number of benefits, but it also means certain duties for the charity and its officers. The responsibilities of being on the Charities Register include meeting some minimum standards, including:

  • Carrying out charitable purposes (charities have to ensure they are carrying out the charitable purposes in their rules documents).
  • Complying with the Charities Act (for example: charities must file their Annual Return within six months of their end of year and notify us of any changes).
  • Preventing serious wrongdoing associated with the charity (for example: charities can’t use the charity’s funds in an “unlawful or corrupt” way, like profiting one of the officers or the officer’s family).

As there are almost 28,000 charities, we can’t monitor every single charity for non-compliance, and we focus on representative issues of non-compliance (e.g. serious fraud, charities using their funds to benefit non-charitable groups, or charities failing to file their Annual Returns).

Where we decide to open an investigation or review into a charity, we determine what may have gone wrong, and whether something needs to be done by the charity. Most of our investigations and reviews result in us either concluding nothing went wrong or working with charities to make changes to meet requirements.

Case reports are an opportunity for us to explain the types of issues that we are seeing, and what charities should do to remain compliant. Case reports will summarise the key issues in some of our compliance activity, as well as the wider lessons for the charities sector.

In serious cases of non-compliance, we present information to the independent Charities Registration Board. In some cases following this process the Board will direct us to notify the charity that they may be removed from the Charities Register. Where a charity disagrees, any decision to deregister is made by the Board directly. We publish most of these decisions on our website. In some cases, ongoing investigations carried out by other agencies mean we can’t publish all the information.

Case reports will be published in the same place on the website. We will also include a brief summary of these decisions and reports in our monthly newsletter (and also occasionally post about them on our Facebook page – be sure to follow us to keep up to date).

The first case report we are publishing is a review into the International Centre for Entrepreneurship Foundation, which may be useful to charities that own or run businesses.

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