Orlando Fraser urges charities to ‘overcome squeamishness’ around large donations

07 Dec 2022 News

Orlando Fraser at NPC annual reception 2022

The chair of the Charity Commission has encouraged the sector to overcome “a slight squeamishness about talking about big-ticket donations”.

Last week, Orlando Fraser encouraged the wealthiest in society to be more philanthropic as charities face an “existential crisis”.

Speaking to a room full of charity leaders yesterday, Fraser said “we should praise those who do rather than assuming that their motives must be cynical or self-serving”.

Meanwhile, Dan Corry, chief executive of New Philanthropy Capital (NPC), said at the think tank’s reception in the House of Lords, that it was a “very worrying time” for many charities while uncertainty over what energy support they will receive next year continues.

‘Commission will respect trustees’ judgment’

At the event, Fraser said that trustees “should of course think carefully about the donations they receive, especially large ones”.

“Plainly they cannot accept any donation where it would be illegal to do so - and they must be led always by their charity’s purposes, and mindful of their reputations,” he said.

“But the starting principle must be that charities need funds to do their good work, and, as in other areas, the Commission will largely respect trustees’ judgment as to whether they should accept donations or not, as they are best placed to know.”

Cost-of-living crisis ‘more serious for charities than Covid’

Corry said: “This crisis is if anything far more serious for charities and the people they care about than Covid. Costs up, donations down; foundations and grant makers facing less good returns on their investments than they did during Covid; real terms cuts in many public services.
“We mustn’t overstate our case – and I fear we did a bit during Covid with results of self-selecting surveys used to argue that a very large proportion of charities were about to go under. Results from such surveys are valuable but need to be treated with some care.

“But this cost-of-living crisis really is serious, and I hope the government is keeping itself aware of just how difficult these times are for the sector and will do what they can to help.

“Certainly, we urge the government to announce as soon as possible what the energy support for charities post April will be - it is a very worrying time for so many while the uncertainty continues.”

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