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CHARITY COMMISSION: Vision speech

14/06/2012 by Alan Cole in the UK

Fundraising innovation is priority for charities says Dame Suzi

Valedictory speech by Charity Commission boss highlights financial priorities for charities... and promotes innovation, focus and accountability...



In her farewell speech the UK’s charity regulator Dame Suzi Leather has highlighted that financial pressure on charities is the main preoccupation right now, posing genuine risks in many cases to their survival...

The Chair of the regulatory body the Charity Commission gave her final speech to the sector in her post, earlier this week at the Almshouse Association’s annual general meeting in London...

"The Commission is more than aware that money tops the list of worries for many charities at the moment, she said...

"I'm afraid that the charity sector could look very different in a few years time and that this will bring pain for many charities and for many beneficiaries.

"But I've also learnt not to underestimate charities ingenuity for making a little go a long way. And for finding new, innovative ways of sourcing income..."

Referring to the Commission's Big Board Talk, a research project, she suggests evaluation and assessment of core purposes is one useful strategy...

"Are we focusing on the right things, or have we drifted into activities that are over and above our core charitable purposes? If we have, is it justified?"

A charity review project the Commission launched last year with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) confirmed funding is the big issue for charities at the moment.

Dame Suzi also pointed to less palpable concerns facing charities, including pressures on them to maintain their originality and individuality...

"Namely whether charities will continue to be able to demonstrate that they are fundamentally different from other types of organisations, she said.

"Will charity continue to mean something special? Sufficiently unique to earn the trust the public places in charities and the privileges they enjoy?"

The pluralisation of the traditional charity model has led to many new organisations as well as lots of dreaded jargon to contend with, including social enterprises and community interest companies and the like...

A resurgence in co-operatives in the UK, essentially businesses but with often a clear positive community impact is also part of the changing landscape that arguably is diluting the charity brand.

But ultimately charities are judged on their end results and if they can achieve great results and show it along with identifying clearly the cause in hand, history shows the public will respond...

"Public benefit is quite simply the legal raison d'être for charity. A charity can only and must wholly be for public benefit. Its their public benefit which makes the world a better place, whatever their charitable mission or object may be," says Dame Suzi...

The departing regulator highlighted that the public expects charities to show public benefit. A Charity Commission survey published in 2010 found that 94 per cent of people agree strongly or very strongly that it is crucial that charities demonstrate how they benefit the public.

The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales...

The Commission is currently undergoing radical changes to benefit the public and improve on the already high levels of confidence in the charity sector.

A new Risk Framework seeks to raise the professional standards of the charity sector, and ensure charities work to the highest standards within the interests of the public...

The framework has announced the regulator's intention to be more proactive in boosting best practice, including safeguarding of charitable funds for intended beneficiaries.

In the current challenging climate high standards of conduct in general and transparency of actions, reassuring the public, offering advice and guidance to charities, is all part of the Commission's current role...

Dame Suzi rounded off her speech by summarising the Commission's ongoing approach as being about promoting compliance and accountability and also working in partnership with the sector.

She also praised charities for nurturing their core goals while adapting to the ever changing landscape...


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Written and edited in London and Geneva All Xperedon news articles are original and are written by the Xperedon news team. The team is headed in the UK by Alan Cole, an experienced award-winning journalist and copywriter. Alan has previously worked in-house for UK publishers, Pearson Media (Financial Times) and Northcliffe Newspapers, among others, and is an accredited member of the National Union of Journalists, UK.

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