Since 2016, military charities have been in the crosshairs of the Charity Commission. This followed a number of negative media headlines in respect of the management and administration of a number of local and national charities and, in particular, concerns over safeguarding issues and fundraising practices.
The Commission published a group case report last week which summarises its findings in respect of a sample of military charities registered since 2007.
The Commission's findings are set out in the case report below but are summarised as follows:
- Safeguarding - it seems that many military charities have not considered their beneficiaries to be vulnerable and have therefore failed to implement policies to ensure that vulnerable beneficiaries are safeguarded.
- Fundraising - many military charities overlook the requirements of the Charities Act 1992 in respect of professional fundraisers and fundraising conduct more generally.
- Financial controls are not robust enough, exposing the charities to financial risk.
- Conflicts of interest are not properly managed.
- Insufficient arrangements are in place in respect of complaints about the charities.
Whilst the Commission is keen to stress that military charities undertake valuable and at time innovative work, this group case report is a clear shot across the bows of military charities.
The Commission clearly considered it proportionate to spend around 18 months considering these issues and it is perhaps likely that this report will be used a stick to beat military charities with in the event that they do not ensure that their governance arrangements are in order.
As I have discussed in previous posts, governance and fundraising are hot topics in the charity sector at present and ignoring these issues could lead to regulatory complications.
If you are the trustee of a military charity and you would like to discuss the Commission's regulatory alert, please do not hesitate to contact me.
We have issued an alert to all registered military charities reminding them of their duties in relation to safeguarding and fundraising. We will also be undertaking further proactive engagement with other military charities.