Sector and regulator need to work to restore public trust – Charity Commission

The sector and the Charity Commission need to respond to a significant drop in public confidence in charity, the regulator has said.

A Charity Commission study published over the summer showed public confidence in charities at the lowest level since measurement began over 10 years ago, and the regulator has advised a Lords Select Committee on charity that the sector needs to better communicate its value and work.

“Many charities and charity leaders are already responding positively to the challenge to respond to public concerns about accountability, transparency and fundraising,” the regulator wrote in a submission to the committee. “But there is certainly more work to do. Charities need to get the message out to the public that things are changing, and show that they care about winning back public trust.”

The regulator said it is a particularly challenging time to be stewarding charities, and the sector therefore requires a higher quality of trusteeship.

Lifting the quality of trusteeship requires an improved regulatory and governance framework, the commission said, with better guidance and support and an improved supply of trustees.

The regulator said many charities, particularly small and medium sized organisations, report that they struggle to recruit trustees at all.

Co-ordinating work across sectors is key to improving the supply of trustees, the regulator wrote, in particular ensuring trusteeship is recognised as a skilled volunteering opportunity with benefits for the individual and their employer.

“Private and public sector organisations should be encouraged to recognise the benefits of their employees becoming trustees. Should the Government bring forward legislation to create a new statutory right to volunteering leave, we would want to ensure that trusteeship is supported and recognised within that,” the commission said.

The Select Committee on Charities has been tasked with considering issues related to sustaining the charity sector, and the challenges of charity governance.

The ad hoc committee continues to hear evidence, and is due to report by March 2017.

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