The National Audit Office has published a review on best practice when taking potentially controversial donations.
The review is based on the 16 public museums and galleries sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which between them received £182m in donations – around 21 per cent of their income.
The review looks at the ethics and governance required for fundraising, to ensure that charities avoid reputational, legal and financial risks.
“Donations carry unique risks as a source of income and there have been high-profile cases of the damage that can be caused if these risks are not well managed,” the review says.
“We have reviewed the systems and policies relevant to donations management that are in place across a number of the museums and galleries sponsored by DCMS. This enabled us to draw together a summary of the issues faced and best-practice examples of how to manage the risks.”
The document says that the three main issues are governance, risk management and staff management, and suggests what measures should be put in place to ensure that these are handled well.
It says that some of the charities it scrutinised had good policies but did not always follow them.
“Overall, we found that there was good awareness of the issues and risks related to donations management among the key officials we spoke to and the extent of procedures tended to reflect the level of risk faced by the charity,” the review says.
“However, written policies and procedures did not always reflect actual practice, either through being out of date or being insufficiently detailed. There was also a lack of information in the public domain in terms of many of the charities’ ethical positions on fundraising and donations.”