Very few people will have missed the latest scandals to have hit the sector. All of which involve very different scenarios, but all connected under the topic of ‘safeguarding’ and because the relevant charities seemingly failed to take necessary action to safeguard their beneficiaries, members, volunteers or staff, as the case may be.
Increased focus on safeguarding
These issues have of course not escaped interest from the press and time will tell what effect such headlines will have on the trust and confidence in the sector generally. However, the headlines coupled with prompt Charity Commission action, the Department for International Development’s firm stance and its new enhanced and specific safeguarding requirements to be met by charities before they can bid for future funding have meant that charities are taking note and considering whether they are also vulnerable to similar criticism and reputational and funding risks.
Charity Commission response
The Charity Commission has been quick off the mark to publicise its updated guidance for charities on the importance of safeguarding and has released information on its website setting out how it interacts with whistle-blowers, which may encourage future whistle-blowers to come forward.
Impacts all charities
The topic of safeguarding has often been dismissed as only being of relevance for charities dealing with children or vulnerable adults. However, it has significance for any charity with staff or indeed any level of interaction with the public. As a basic principle of good governance trustees should proactively safeguard all those coming into contact with the charity and this needs to be a key governance priority. A prudent board of trustees will be reviewing their own policies and procedures, testing the robustness of their own safeguarding arrangements and putting new policies in place where they are lacking.
As the Save the Children example has shown, the emphasis is not simply about the protection of vulnerable beneficiaries but also about harassment in the workplace. The current prominence of the #MeToo movement is encouraging trustees to take responsibility for the culture within their charity to ensure that all those interacting with the charity are protected.
Many charities who don’t directly provide services to beneficiaries, but contract others to do so on their behalf, are reviewing and tightening up their contracts and ensuring that all those involved with their staff, volunteers or beneficiaries have their own effective systems of control and adequate safeguarding policies in place and are aware of their obligations, including the obligation to report to the charity if an incident occurs.
Serious incident reporting
The Charity Commission is publicising an increase in the number Serious Incident Reports being filed relating to historic as well as current risks to charity funds and reputation as a result of the press reports and that trend is likely to continue. The Charity Commission’s annual report of its compliance case work reports that over half of all serious incidents reported relate to safeguarding concerns. However, the increased awareness of serious incident reporting has also led to an increase in reports more generally outside the topic of safeguarding.
Trustees should ensure that they, and all those working for, or representing the charity understand their reporting requirements. Further it is important that there are clear reporting lines within the charity, the organisations they work with, and to the Commission so that any incident can be adequately assessed, addressed, and reported if necessary.
For more information, please contact Sarah Rowley at firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)20 7203 5370.
Pro bono partnership with Atkins and Z2K sees successful first Disability Benefit Appeals case
Charles Russell Speechlys launched our partnership with Atkins and Zacchaeus 2000 Trust to take on Disability Benefit Appeals cases.
Amelia Goodwin writes for Civil Society on a recent employment tribunal ruling which found that anxiety constitutes a disability
The tribunal found that an anxiety state constitutes a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010.
Pro bono advice helps charity acquire properties for homeless people
Transform is a Surrey-based charity providing housing and support to more than 1,700 homeless and vulnerable people every year.
Charles Russell Speechlys become a Corporate Member of Philanthropy Impact
Charles Russell Speechlys are delighted to become a Corporate Member of Philanthropy Impact.
Sustainable Investing: From ESG Integration to Impact Investing
We have a wide perspective on the range of issues that fall within the spectrum from ESG to impact investing.
Pro bono partnership between Charles Russell Speechlys and Social Business Trust
Our partnership with Social Business Trust (SBT) is going from strength to strength.
Setting up a charitable foundation and sustainable investment
Heather Maizels and Sarah Rowley discuss aspects of philanthropy, including setting up a charitable foundation and sustainable investments
How have philanthropists responded to COVID-19 impact? What trends have we started to see?
Philanthropists have responded quickly since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
COVID-19: Charity Update
COVID-19 has placed charities and not-for-profits under financial pressure, yet their role is more important than ever.
A charitable celebration
Charitable giving in Surrey
Community Fund for Surrey
Learn about our approach to philanthropic giving.
Automatic disqualification: the rules change on 1 August 2018
Charities should have systems in place to check whether any of their trustees or senior managers will now be disqualified.
Alan Kitcher joins Charles Russell Speechlys as Head of Trusts & Probate
Charles Russell Speechlys has appointed Alan Kitcher as Head of Trusts and Probate.
George Duncan featured in The Guardian's article on plans to build a car park on historic graveyard
Charles Russell Speechlys promotes eight to Partner
A further four have been promoted to Legal Director and 22 to Senior Associate.
Charities’ wrongs – can the law remedy them?
Sarah Rowley was recently quoted in The Times in an article focussing on the Oxfam GB case in Haiti.
Sarah Rowley comments in The Times on whether the law can right charities' wrongs
Supporting good causes this Christmas
Whether supporting a cause close to your or raising funds, there are a number of important issues to consider
Charles Russell Speechlys Community Fund recognised by Business Magazine Awards
Charles Russell Speechlys Community Fund in Guildford recognised with Community Legacy Award,
Launch of the Fundraising Preference Service
In 2015 a cross-party parliamentary review committee conducted a review of the way charity fundraising is regulated.