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Autumnal colour or a wintery chill?

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December 5, 2012 at 19:25

This year’s Autumn Statement – the Government’s opportunity to set out its stall for the months ahead and to respond to the latest growth forecasts – does little to reinforce our confidence in the economy and outlook for charities and those they support who are vulnerable. In an otherwise stormy sea, the only beacons of light for charities themselves were the headline grabbing cancellation in planned fuel duty rises, the reference to a forthcoming consultation on extending Gift Aid to cover digital platforms, and the additional spend on the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme over the next 5 years (as a […]

CIOs: An end in sight…

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November 27, 2012 at 12:02

The Small Charitable Donations Bill isn’t the only thing happening that’s good for charities this week – we also, after a wait the  equivalent of the Marathon de Sables, have real progress on CIOs (Charitable Incorporated Organisations).  With their statutory instruments finally seeing the light of day and up for debate somewhere in the quieter corridors of Westminster today – in the mysteriously named Third Delegated Legislative Committee no less –   this new legal form looks likely to overcome its last outstanding hurdles. The slow introduction has been a source of frustration for many charities, some of whom unfortunately could […]

Making the most of your people

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November 16, 2012 at 16:50

We’ve been reviewing the top risks in charities for 11 years now, and it’ll be no surprise that year on year income reduction and uncertainty top the pile.  The advice in response here is always to review income streams and diversify if possible.  A familiar mantra – one that’s easy to say, but in reality difficult to achieve as often the right business practices, time and skills are needed to see it through. There are plenty of indications that charities have been trying to put themselves on a more sustainable financial footing by looking more closely at their business practices, […]

Are you getting all you can from your bank?

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October 26, 2012 at 15:14

Let’s be blunt – managing your own bank account can be a fairly dull, routine process and not something you want to spend a lot of time on.  However it is essential, and a convenient service from a supportive bank will ensure your funds are managed properly and, hopefully, take up very little of your time.  Many charities want a quick and easy solution to banking too and we receive regular queries from organisations wanting to make sure they’re picking the right bank account and going about it the right way. Selecting a bank account is like choosing between mobile […]

Ethical investment: why it might be right for your charity

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September 28, 2012 at 13:48

One highlight of  this year’s CFG investment Conference for me was hearing Edward Mason, Secretary of the Church of England Ethical Investment Advisory Group, give a fascinating talk on ethical investment. Ethical (or socially responsible) investment (EI) is that which takes social, environmental or governance issues into consideration in investment decisions. A growing number of charities have adopted some form of EI policy in recent years, yet many others have not. Although I’ve interned and volunteered in charities for a number of years, I’m still relatively new to working in the sector and this was an aspect of charity that I had […]

Data protection not data prevention

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September 21, 2012 at 12:30

Earlier this week the UK Parliament’s Justice Select Committee held its first evidence session on the EU Data Protection Framework Proposals. Whilst they were concerned predominantly with the logistics and technicalities in the Information Commissioner’s report, I am concerned that further regulation in the area of data protection, drawn up without consideration of the structure or activities of charities will prove unduly restrictive for many organisations. The new proposals build on the EU’s existing body of law around privacy rights and include the contentious “right to be forgotten”. The aim is noble; to allow individuals to control the information that […]

Being charitable by what you spend, not by what you save

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September 4, 2012 at 10:59

Being charitable by what you spend, not by what you save Becoming a trustee of an endowed charitable foundation could appear intimidating to anyone that doesn’t have investment and finance expertise. In addition to general trustee duties, the ‘endowment’ aspect often cloaks the role in an air of mystery, complexity and technicality, where the focus is more on the performance of assets than charitable mission. However, a recent report by ACF ‘The governance and financial management of endowed foundations’, is a helpful reminder of the benefits of going ‘back to basics’ and keeping a clear focus on what the foundation […]

Another zero rate bites the dust…

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August 29, 2012 at 16:08

With fewer distractions now the Olympics have finished, we’ve been reflecting on the charity finance-related policy developments of the year so far – many of which were introduced or reiterated in March’s budget.  The rather unpopular budget finally limped onto the statute book last month, following a number of u-turns and minus any reference to the ‘charity tax’ following widespread objections from the sector. One area where lobbying efforts were much less successful, however, was on the Government’s proposal to remove the VAT zero-rating for alterations to listed buildings.  The measure will result in significant additional costs to charities owning […]

Reviewing the reviews: charity law, regulation and red tape

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August 10, 2012 at 15:27

Charity law and regulation and its implementation, not normally issues to excite the sector, have been given unusual prominence lately and are certainly keeping those with an eye on charity policy busy this summer. Last month we had both the publication of Lord Hodgson’s much anticipated independent review of the 2006 Charities Act and the closure of the Charity Commission’s consultation on the charity register. Our civil society minister, Nick Hurd MP, has written to sector leaders seeking input to the Government response to the Hodgson review, submissions for the Civil Society Red Tape Challenge are due in September and […]

Gift Aid without the paperwork… worth the risk!

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August 10, 2012 at 14:59

My edition of the textbook, ‘What Works’, has gathered a convincing layer of dust of late.  With a title reference to rhetoric on ‘evidence-based policy’, once a critical companion to my studies, the book now has a feeling of an old relic from the past.   Looking at recent proposals, many in the charity sector have asked whether we have lost something in terms of attempting to frame policy decisions within a sound evidence base.  It may sometimes be rhetoric, but surely it helps focus decisions on ‘what works’. Clear policy objectives and direction are difficult to identify among an untidy […]