The Charity Commission will expect all charities to become part of a voluntary sector umbrella body, and has mooted highlighting on the Commission website the memberships that charities hold.
Chair of the Charity Commission Dame Suzi Leather made the announcement at the Commission’s public meeting yesterday, which discussed the theme 'Charities and self-regulation – how far can it go?'
Dame Suzi (pictured) said going forward the Charity Commission was expecting the charity sector to become more self-reliant, with trustees taking more decisions without input from the Commission.
She said that as part of this strategy the Commission would work to increase the profile of umbrella bodies, who could take on the advice role that the Commission currently plays:
“There have been discussions about an umbrella support coalition of sector groups taking on an advice function that feeds off Charity Commission guidance. Then, we could deal with a limited number of umbrellas rather than 180,000 charities.”
She said all charities would be expected to be a member of an umbrella body.
Sam Younger, the Commission's chief executive, added that while the Commission would be unable to give financial support to the umbrella groups, their resource issues would cease to be such a problem if they increased their memberships.
“We could encourage more charities to be members through information on annual returns, or a field when registering with the Charity Commission," he said.
Dame Suzi added: “It won’t happen overnight. But more membership means more income and more profile. In turn, umbrellas could help us ensure that members do accounts on time. This is an important strategic development and I’m proud of it.
“It would be akin to the relationship between the Institute of Fundraising and the Fundraising Standards Board.”
'A virtuous circle'
Alistair McLean, chief executive of the FRSB, said the “cards were in the hands of the Charity Commission” and said it would be welcome for the Commission to encourage the sector to register with the FRSB, calling it a “virtuous circle”.
“Only 50 per cent of large fundraising charities are members with us,” he said.
Greyham Dawes, consultant at Crowe Clark Whitehill suggested that the Charity Commission could publish the tick mark of the FRSB by each charity member on their Commission profile:
“The media would pick it up if a charity lost the mark and bring buy-in from the sector to join and comply with the standards.”