Orlando Fraser praises ‘vast contribution’ of Muslim charities at inaugural event

13 Oct 2023 News

Orlando Fraser at the Muslim Charities Convention

Muslim Charities Forum

Charity Commission chair Orlando Fraser has praised the “vast contribution to the well-being of our country” made by Muslim charities.

Speaking at the Muslim Charities Forum’s first ever national convention, Fraser said “one particular area where we see the value of the Muslim charities is in the international aid sector”.

At yesterday’s event in London, Fraser pledged to “strike the right balance between being robust and supportive”, including when dealing with charities that take part in “unlawful extremism”.

Fraser said there were “some particular regulatory issues that arise when it comes to charities that carry out religious activities” such as trustee disputes.

‘It is not our job to pick sides between rival groups of trustees’

Fraser said there were some regulatory issues that are particularly relevant to religious charities.

“Many of these charities are membership organisations, which can naturally bring some challenges not faced elsewhere,” he said.

“People are drawn to these charities by passion and commitment to their objectives, but sadly across all types of charity you occasionally see trustees who lose sight of their collective endeavour.

“The particular inspiration that is drawn from faith can make dealing with disputes more complex, where opinions of religious practice or tradition are understandably deeply held.

“It is not normally the Commission’s role to get involved in such matters. It is the responsibility of trustees to resolve disputes when they occur, and the Commission is only likely to get involved in exceptional circumstances.

“It is not our job to pick sides between rival groups of trustees. We are guided by charity law, and will act in the long-term best interests of the charity, not the parties in the dispute.”

‘Balance between being robust and supportive’

Fraser said the Commission would aim to “strike the right balance between being robust and supportive”.

“Holding charities to account for meeting standards, and dealing firmly with intentional wrongdoers, those who are grossly negligent,” he said.

“Doing that in a proportionate way and not coming down hard on trustees who have made honest, reasonable mistakes.

“This balance can be particularly important when dealing with charities who break the law over political activity and campaigning, including involvement of unlawful extremism.”

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