and Struthers, the charity accountants and business advisors,
has backed a think tank report calling on the Government to
provide greater support for charities.
New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) argued in a report on charity
trusteeship that charity board members often lacked relevant
training and performance evaluation and that investment
by charities in their governance remained low.
The report said that almost 50% of charities had Board
vacancies and that almost half of trustees were aged over
NPC proposed that the Government should encourage more
people to join charity boards as trustees to broaden the
range of skills and encourage diversity.
Maria Hallows, partner and head of the charities team Beever
and Struthers, said charities recognised that strong governance
was essential but had to overcome high hurdles specific
She said: “Governance is a key issue for charities
because of their reliance on volunteers. Charities recognise
that volunteers can be difficult to manage in terms of governance
and internal controls - people volunteer because they believe
in a cause and not necessarily because they want to be good
“Volunteers, who often work few or irregular hours,
can be difficult to train and that can increase risks –
the prospect of becoming a trustee and being ultimately
responsible if something goes wrong is therefore an unattractive
Hallows said the housing and education sectors had to comply
with extensive mandatory governance requirements –
but that although there are some statutory obligations in
respect of governance in the charity sector, many procedures
are not obligatory and are only recommended as a matter
of best practice.
“Facing reductions in income, a cash-strapped charity
may decide to prioritise delivery of front line services
rather than strengthening governance controls because of
both a desire to optimise achievement of charitable objectives
and media pressure to minimise the amount of income spent
on administration,” she added.
There is also increasing awareness among professionals
of clampdowns by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs
(HMRC) on charities diversifying into activities outside
of their stated objectives and warnings from professional
bodies about negligence issues facing professionally qualified
people acting as trustees should things go wrong.
She believes that the shortage of trustees will “get
worse before it gets better".
“As the UK economy relies heavily on the charity
sector to care for and support those in need, and much of
this care would still have to be provided were charities
no longer there, this issue must be addressed from an economic
perspective in addition to being a social obligation,”