The Charity Commission does not understand the “day-to-day reality” facing small charities, Rita Chadha, chief executive of the Small Charities Coalition (SCC), has said.
Speaking in an interview with Civil Society News, she said the Commission must “keep up-to-date with the speed and with the needs of small charities”, and urged it to become a more “benevolent” regulator. Chadha also said there has been a “subtle pressure” on small charities which have come to fear campaigning.
“I think it would be interesting to see the Charity Commission come and run a small charity for the day, that would be my challenge. My challenge to Helen Stephenson - come and do my job for a day - let’s do a job swap,” she said.
She added: “I am sure her job is not easy either, but I do not think they understand the day-to-day reality of a small charity”.
The umbrella body has also unveiled a new strategy, which will involve redefining its remit to focus its attention on the very smallest charities.
Helen Stephenson: 'I am fully alive to the challenges that small charities face'
Responding to the comments, Helen Stephenson CBE, chief executive of the Charity Commission, said: “Having run a small charity myself, and worked as a volunteer, a trustee, a funder, a policy-maker and a regulator, I am fully alive to the challenges that small charities face, as well as the huge value that they bring to the sector.
“That is why I care about regulating on behalf of the people whose support charities rely on - the person on the street that puts their 50p in a bucket, or my neighbour that gives up their time to volunteer for a good cause. I want charities to thrive and inspire trust, so I will continue to stress the importance of charities meeting public expectations. I would have been happy to discuss all of this with Rita when I met her earlier this week.”
A spokesperson for the Commission added: “We set out in our strategy last year to re-design our guidance to ensure it fits different charities’ needs, and have already engaged positively with the Small Charities Coalition on this programme of work.
“Last year we published the findings of robust independent research which revealed factors that help to inspire public trust. We commissioned this work in the interests of helping charities.
“As Helen made clear in a recent blog, it is legitimate and healthy for charities to speak out on behalf of the causes they serve and charities can engage in political activity in line with their charitable purposes. However there are clear lines that cannot be crossed, including that charities cannot support particular parties or candidates. We will publish a report with lessons learned from the election period, as we have in previous years, in due course.”