Annual Report explains regulator’s new approach

Written by Andrew Holt

The Charity Commission has today published its latest Annual Report and Accounts, which explains how the organisation has so far delivered against its new strategic plan, published in January 2012 following a thorough strategic review.

The report also highlights the Commission’s continued strong performance against the key performance indicators associated with its previous strategic plan, and for the first time sets out how the regulator will be measuring its performance during the years to 2015.

The report sets out how the Commission’s strategic priorities to encourage compliance and accountability and strengthen charities’ self-reliance have translated into its work with charities in 2011-12.

It highlights, for instance, the regulator’s proactive approach to preventing problems in charities, including by describing a new approach to spot checking charities’ annual accounts, as well as its increasing focus on assessing and mitigating risks facing the sector as a whole.

The section on promoting self reliance describes the regulator’s new partnership strategy, which involves encouraging sector infrastructure organisations and charity advisors to take greater responsibility for good governance among the charities they work with.

The report also highlights the Commission’s success in moving its services online - this year, 99.9% of registrations followed online applications and since 2011, all charities have had to submit their Annual Returns online.

This year’s report also includes more detail about the work of the Commission’s International Programme, which is funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and works to help create healthy, accountable and independent non-governmental sectors around the world, and to encourage the development of regulatory environments that miniminse the risk of abuse.

The programme is currently working on projects in South Africa, Pakistan and Indonesia, and is in talks with the governments of Egypt and Libya.

Sam Younger, chief executive of the Charity Commission, says the regulator’s new strategy is firmly embedded across all of its work: “This report highlights how our priorities to encourage compliance, accountability and self-reliance in charities and our commitment to quality of service, inform the approach we take to all of our work.

"This ranges from registering charities, providing online guidance, to deciding whether we need to get involved when things go wrong in individual charities. This approach follows from our new vision – Charities you can support with confidence – and demonstrates that everything we do serves the public’s interest in charity.

"I am delighted that we have maintained strong performance across the board, and would like to thank staff members for their commitment and hard work this year”.

Key figures highlighted in the report include:

5,601 charities in 2011-12 in a reduced average time of 27 days

83% of charities filed Annual Return on time

86% of charities filed annual accounts on time

97% of the sector’s income for which the Commission holds the most recent due accounts

85 investigations into charities were closed in 2011-12 charities’ details were viewed over 6 million times on the Commission’s website

Key Commission performance highlights include:

98.3 % of customer emails were answered within 15 working days, against a target of 90%

94.5% of investigation reports were published within 3 months of the case concluding

Charities were registered in an average of 27 days this year, down from 29 in 2010-11

It cost the taxpayer 47p to fund the regulation of every £1,000 of income received by charities in 2011-12

76% of users of the Commission’s website said they were either very satisfied or satiftied with their visit (finding of a survey conducted in March//April 2012)

The Charity Commission’s new External Performance Indicators are:
Relative Cost of the Commission

Quality of the Commission’s work

Public Trust and Confidence

Details about how the Commission will measure its performance against these indicators are provided in the report.

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