Tristan Blythe: New year but the same challenges for charities?

03 Feb 2020 Voices

Tristan Blythe outlines some of the topics that will high on charities' agendas in 2020.

We are only one month into 2020 and some readers may be struggling to keep their New Year’s resolutions, or have already abandoned them.

The charity sector is not immune to the need to improve itself and should have the willpower not to throw the towel in – especially as some of the challenges for 2020 are not new.

One area that recent high-profile cases has demonstrated it needs to improve on is how it deals with allegations of bullying and harassment. This kind of behaviour is unacceptable in all walks of life, but it is particularly damaging to the public’s perception of charities.

Because of the sector’s role of doing good deeds, the public expect it to uphold the highest standards in everything it does. It may seem at times that the expectations are impossible to meet. But looking after staff and making them feel safe, valued and able to speak up at work is one expectation that every charity should be meeting.

The good news is that while there is still work to be done, a number of organisations have started to take steps to change. But that doesn’t mean the sector can be complacent. In order to get rid of this problem, and ensure it does not reoccur, constant vigilance is needed.

Charities should not need a New Year’s resolution to take action on this and make sure they have the right policies and processes, but if you haven’t already done so then do not hesitate any longer.

Another area that charities are increasingly expected to consider in all their actions is climate change. For those charities with an investment portfolio, climate change concerns may be one element of an ethical investment policy. With the Charity Commission launching a consultation on responsible investing this could become more widespread. Also seemingly on the rise are impact investments, which go beyond trying to not to do harm to trying to do good and make improvements to the world.

Of course, the climate crisis is not something charities can tackle alone. All of society needs to play a role. We here at Civil Society Media have changed from plastic packaging for our magazines to a new biodegradable material. This can be put in a composter or will naturally break down if sent to landfill.

Finally, by the time you are reading this, the UK will have left the EU. This will almost certainly lead to new challenges for many in the sector.

Tristan Blythe is editor of Charity Finance 

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