What were the most read charity stories of 2018?

The Charity Times news team has had another busy year of publishing news stories relating to all areas of charity management. But which ones proved to be most popular among our readers? Here we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 most read stories from 2018:

1. RSPCA given warning over payout of former chief

In August, the RSPCA received an official warning from the Charity Commission over the decision-making process surrounding the payout of its former chief executive, Michael Ward.

A formal warning issued to the animal welfare charity claimed its trustees had failed to ensure they were sufficiently informed before making a hefty settlement to Ward, who was formerly the charity’s interim chief executive.

The warning followed an investigation into the charity’s management after it was reported the RSPCA had issued a payoff in excess of the £150,000 salary commanded by the chief post. The payoff was issued after 57-year old Ward claimed he was rejected for the permanent role due to his age.

Investigation conclusions found the trustees had not acted with “reasonable care” during their negotiations with Ward, resulting in "mismanagement in the administration of the charity".

Read more on this story here.

2. Revealed: the full list of charities that have been recommended to merge

Research published by Firetail earlier this year revealed a list of charities that chief executives from across the sector think should merge to form “mega-charities”.

The research, which was based on the responses of 39 charity leaders at chief executive and senior level, highlighted the need for mergers among some of the biggest charities in order to create “category-leading” charities that could “drive greater impact”.

Read the full list here.

3. AmazonSmile opens up to all UK charities

Amazon this year launched AmazonSmile, where millions of Amazon customers can raise money for charities when shopping on the site.

Customers who shop with AmazonSmile can choose a charity to support before they start shopping and that charity will receive donations from Amazon at no additional cost to the customer or the charity. It provides the same services as Amazon, but instead, Amazon will donate 0.5 per cent of the net purchase price of eligible products to the charity of the customer’s choice.

Since its inception, thousands of charities have signed up to AmazonSmile, including CLIC Sargent, RSPCA, WWF, Stonewall Equality, Barnardo’s, Cancer Research UK, The British Red Cross and The Royal British Legion.

Read more on our coverage of AmazonSmile here.

4. Half of local charities predict demise within next five years

Less than half of local charities are confident they will survive beyond five years due to a huge imbalance between time and resources, a report published in April revealed.

The Local Charity and Community Group Sustainability Report, published by Localgiving and Sage Foundation, found many local charities and community groups are stretched to “breaking point” following a number of cuts and austerity measures that have increased burden on small charities.

Over 686 people from local charities and community groups responded to the survey, but just 47 per cent said they were confident of survival past five years.

Read more on this story here.

5. Revealed: the 15 most and least trusted charity sectors

The 15 most and least trusted charity sectors were revealed this year, with cancer claiming the top spot.

According to a survey conducted for the report Trust in charities and the overseas development sector, conducted by nfpSynergy, 76 per cent of respondents said they trusted cancer charities – 39 per cent claiming they had “a great deal” of trust, while 37 per cent said they trusted the sector “up to a point”.

This was followed by rescue services and hospices, which both held the trust of 75 per cent of respondents.

The religious and overseas aid development sectors were found to be the least trusted. Just 36 and 32 per cent of people said they trusted the sectors respectively. As much as 40 per cent of those questioned said they didn’t trust religious charities, while 37 per cent said they lacked trust in overseas and aid development.

Read the full list here.

6. Revealed: the top charity CEOs on social media

The top charity leaders on social media were announced in the latter half of the year, with Kate Collins, chief executive of Teenage Cancer Trust stealing the top spot.

Winners were announced at the Social CEO awards in London, and praised charity leaders who have used social media to share stories about their individual charities and journeys as leaders.

Read the full list of the winners here.

7. Over 80% of charities need to revisit digital strategy, report finds

Eight in 10 charity leaders acknowledge they need to advance the pace of digital change within their organisation, research published earlier this year revealed.

According to Engineers for change: Why finance teams must drive the digital agenda, published by Charity Finance Group and Eduserv, 60 per cent of charities are successfully implementing a digital strategy, but over 80 percent said they would benefit from rethinking the approach they have to a digital transformation.

The research further highlighted that charities could increase the effectiveness of their plans by involving finance professionals earlier in strategy development and more closely in their delivery.

Read the full story here.

8. Decline in number of charity shops worsens

The net fall in the number of high street charity shops has almost doubled over the last year, according to research carried out by the Local Data Company for PwC.

The research into high street retail trends found that 271 charity shops closed in 2017, but just 202 opened. This net decline of 69 is almost double the net fall of 37 in the number of charity shops, when the same research was carried out in 2016.

The figures, which only include shop chains of five or more, also show that more charity shops than pubs and convenience stores closed in 2017.

Read the full story here.

9. Concerns raised over government plans to overhaul international aid

In April this year, international aid organisations warned the government against using global development funding to promote the UK’s commercial and security goals over helping the world’s poorest people.

Bond, the network organisation of more than 450 international development NGOs, and international development campaign group Global Justice Now, issued the warning after secretary of state for international development Penny Mordaunt set out her vision for overhauling international development aid.

Read more on this story here.

10. Presidents Club trustees breached duties and failed women, regulator finds

There were ‘significant failures’ at the Presidents Club Charitable Trust and its trustees were in breach of a number of key charity law duties, a Charity Commission report found earlier this year.

The report revealed the findings of an investigation into the charity, which was opened in January 2018 after reports of sexual harassment at the Presidents Club gala dinner.

The gala dinner was an all-male event, staffed by female-only staff, who were subject to instructions on their appearance, including that they wear ‘smart, sexy, shoes’. The women employed to work as hostesses at the event were also subjected to harassment and inappropriate behaviour by male guests.

Read more on the Charity Commission’s findings here.

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