On 30 September 2021 the Charity Commission delivered their 2nd virtual annual public meeting, due to the pandemic.
Whilst they regretted the opportunity to meet charities first hand, there was nearly 1000 people who listened to the live recording and charities were given the opportunity to ask questions of the panel.
The event was recorded and can be listened to on you tube, using this link.
Helen Stephenson CBE, CEO of the Charity Commission for England and Wales delivered a speech as part of the event. Helen mentioned that, that over half of the largest charities, those with incomes of over £500,000, say they made use of furlough, or other emergency funding schemes during the pandemic.
Last year, 97 charities reported that they were insolvent, as part of their annual return to the Commission. That is up by a third on last year, but still a relatively small number in total. Accessing government support such as the furlough scheme may be the reason why the Charity Commission have seen fewer charities fail and dissolve than they might have predicted back in March of last year.
There are some grounds for continued optimism with only 10% of those they asked anticipating financial difficulties in the months ahead to present a critical threat to their survival. However, Helen felt for some charities the most difficult times may lie ahead. And that those challenges will not just be operational, and not just financial. But also about people, relationships.
The Charity Commission have already seen an increase in disputes in charities and they expect this may continue.
Their advice is as you face difficult decisions about how to adapt your charity’s work to changing times, be alive to the risk of disagreements escalating.
Don’t place being right ahead of doing the right thing. Prioritise communication with those you work with, and work for, and with those on whose support you rely.