The charity leader’s network ACEVO says that the Charity Commission’s latest poll – in so far as any such polls are of long-standing relevance in this era of rapidly changing public opinion – suggests a continued disconnect between the challenges facing the sector and the public’s understanding of them. More must be done to explain the changes that have already been made by the sector in response to concerns. but also politicians, the public and the regulator must realise that these are seriously challenging times for the sector and its beneficiaries and they need support if they are begin to deliver on the task of helping heal our divided country.
The concerns about some fundraising practices are well known and charities have addressed this with a crackdown on bad practices and the establishment of a tough new fundraising regulator.
But what continues to be overlooked are the implications of the findings that 67 per cent of respondents say charities spend too much on administration and only 12 per cent of them say that good management is one of their main trust issues.
The collapse of Kids Company happened precisely because it broke the golden rule that the sustainable delivery of public services on the front line begins in the back office. Neglect that and the front line collapses with the tragic results seen in the aftermath of Kids Company.
It is not enough to highlight faults, it is necessary to provide support and drive home to the public the message that charities need the highest calibre of governance to provide the quality and level of service the public rightfully expects.
ACEVO Chief Executive (Interim) Asheem Singh says:
“ln the last week public-facing institutions got a kicking and it is no surprise given the media stories of the previous year that trust in charities, and indeed the Charity Commission, has fallen. 33 per cent of people attribute their decline in trust in charities to media stories about charities generally and 32 per cent to media coverage of how donations are spent.
“We need the sector to work and work well. Yes, there have been examples of egregious bad practice but the damage done to the sector by these examples of bad practice must be balanced by the vast amount of energy, commitment, inspiration and sheer slog put in by the vast amount of charities and good causes of all shapes and size. We cannot afford more kids companies and we cannot afford to underplay the passion and commitment of the sector.
“We are moving from an age of deference to an age where respect and trust in all institutions is falling. Good governance means charities must reform by recognising the virtues of transparency and learning when things go wrong – which they are doing in all aspects of their work. It also means the regulator, sector, representatives and influencers working together to nurture best practice and speaking positively about the wonderful experiences that many people have when they are helped or work with our country’s charitable organisations.”