A change of tack from the Charity Commission? Watch this space!

William Shawcross is a man worth listening to. Not only is he the Chair of the Charity Commission’s Board (i.e. he is in charge of the people who are in charge of the strategic direction of the Charity Commission), but he also has a habit of announcing in his public speeches the issues the Commission is currently considering the most.

He spoke earlier this month: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/rathbones-charity-conversations-series-2015-william-shawcross-speech

Two comments in particular stood out to me:

1) When talking about the tragic Olive Cooke fundraising case: “I believe this is a crisis for the charity sector which is testing the strength and capacity of self-regulation.”

It is clear to anyone who deals with the various fundraising regulations, codes and guidance that they could be usefully updated. Unfortunately it took the death of Olive Cooke for this to become a priority. In addition, is Shawcross alluding to the end of self-regulation? Presuming the alternative is active regulation by the Commission, is Shawcross eyeing a big increase in the Commission’s budget (see below)?

2) When talking about the Charity Commission’s funding: “…so long as the Commission relies on the Treasury for our funding, we will always be at risk of further cuts…….we have to explore various options, including funding in whole or in part by charities themselves.”

The idea of the Commission charging fees has been mentioned before, but is it coming closer to reality? If one assumes the Commission would aim to return to a budget similar to 2007/08 (£32m+), divided amongst 165,000 registered charities that is an average annual payment of c.£194.  If one further assumes that the smallest charities (say with annual income up to £10,000) are exempt, that average rises to over £330.

I suspect we will hear more on both of these issues in due course, and I would strongly recommend to all interested parties to engage with the Commission when the opportunity arises.

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