ACEVO is here to support you during the coronavirus outbreak. In this page you will find answers to frequently asked questions, but please get in touch if you need more specific information or advice.
I am trying to keep on top of everything but feeling really stressed. Can ACEVO offer me any support?
We know that this is an incredibly stressful time for CEOs. If you need to talk to someone, please don’t be afraid to get in touch. You don’t have to go through this alone.
If you are struggling, need advice or a sounding board, or would just like to share what is going on for you, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with the heading ‘Talk to us’. Jenny and Tom – both experienced coaches and previous chief executives – understand the issues and will be in touch to arrange a one to one call. If they can’t support you directly, then they will link you with the information or contacts that can.
You can also attend some of the webinars we are hosting on resilience and mindfulness, to help you cope with stress and anxiety. We are also holding weekly member meetings to link people up and share learning and experiences. You can find out more and register on the webpage here.
I am worried that a member of staff or a volunteer could become ill at work for my organisation. What should I do if this happens?
We know many charities are delivering frontline services that can’t be delivered from home, particularly in health and social care and children’s services, and so your staff need to be protected at work. The key thing is that you have spoken about social distancing and follow government guidelines, making sure individuals stay 2m apart and that you have access to the appropriate PPE. There is guidance here about businesses that have stayed open and cannot facilitate home working.
If a member of staff becomes ill at work, you may need to report the instance via RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations). There is specific advice about what needs reporting and how to do this here. We have also spoken with our partner Ellis Whittam who have summarised the key developments in terms of HSE guidance and RIDDOR here. If you need any further support please get in touch.
The Charity Commission has provided clarity on this point, and several others, here. If you do not have a clause in your governing document allowing for remote meetings, the Commission has said the following:
“Where there is no such clause in your governing document and you decide to hold meetings over the phone or using digital solutions, we will understand but you should record this decision and that you have done this to demonstrate good governance of your charity.”
I have seen a huge drop in income for my organisation, due to the closure of services, shops and more. Is there going to be a package for charities that might not survive?
ACEVO has been working with other infrastructure bodies on the #EveryDayCounts campaign, to talk to the government about an emergency financial resilience package for the sector. We have made significant progress but still not had confirmation about whether there will be specific support from government.
You can see updates about this work here. CEO of NCVO, Karl Wilding, gave evidence on behalf of the sector to the DCMS Select Committee on 31 March. You can follow the Select Committee’s enquiry here.
If you want to support the campaign, you can email case studies about what your organisation is experiencing to our policy officer Maisie, who is collating material. This material will be shared with DCMS and other infrastructure bodies as needed, to strengthen our campaign. Information shared for Select Committee evidence hearings may be made public. If you’d rather we shared it anonymously, just let Maisie know in your email.
The decision to furlough staff, especially at a time when many organisations need to keep frontline services open more than ever, is incredibly challenging. In this page, you will find all the information you need about the furlough scheme
Part of the evidence the Every Day Counts campaign has submitted has highlighted the unique tension charities face between mothballing staff and keeping vital public services running. Please get in touch to share your experiences if you can, as all evidence helps to support our case.
I don’t know what’s going to happen over the next few months or what to tell my board – how should I be contingency planning?
We know many charities are extremely worried about the sustainability of their organisation. NCVO has drawn together a variety of useful guidance on contingency planning which is available here. If you need further templates or support, please get in touch with the ACEVO team and we will do our best to direct you to a partner who may be able to help, or to further resources.
If you have concerns about how to explain the situation to your trustees, ACEVO members can use our Governance Advice line for further support.
I’m worried about funding – events have been cancelled, shops have closed, and more. Can you help me work out what to do next?
We know that many of you are seriously worried about the future of your organisation, and we know that this is an extremely stressful time. If you require professional financial advice, please do explore our trusted suppliers here and get in touch with any questions.
It is important that fundraising in the UK continues to be carried out in a way that is respectful and follows the Code of Fundraising Practice. The Fundraising Regulator has published advice on fundraising, please read it here.
ACEVO members can use our governance advice line to ask any questions regarding informing/working with trustees at the moment and in the future.
The Charity Finance Group has collated a list of resources available to members here. The Directory of Social Change has published a page with information and links to several coronavirus funding programmes.
NCVO has a range of guidance around the financial implications of Covid-19 available on its website. We know that the sector is in great need of a resilience package from the state and we will continue to push for this. If you are willing and able to share your experiences, please email them to Maisie Hulbert who will collate them as part of our evidence.
As an organisation we don’t raise a lot of voluntary funds, but we bid for lots of government contracts. What should we be doing to ensure these are sustainable?
Organisations that deliver government contracts are in a specific position at the moment whereby they may not be eligible for much of the government support, but are deemed to be providing essential public services and therefore are, in many cases, key workers.
This helpful blog on procurement guidelines from NCVO lays out the current guidance. If you have specific questions about procurement or commissioned services, please send your concerns to Maisie Hulbert, who is collating specific responses about public service delivery during this crisis.
It is of course important to keep trustees informed. However, charities need to maintain the separation between operational CEO and the strategic board. Keep the discussions at board meetings more regular if needed; video calls are permitted by the Charity Commission and it’s important to maintain a record of decisions made. Review communications with chair and board and agree on any changes necessary.
Has Covid-19 changed anything (legally, or otherwise) when considering public-private funding models?
It really depends on what is set out in the contract between the private and public sector, our partner Hempsons can advise on this.
Two of our trustees have recently resigned and this may not be the time for us to recruit new trustees. This means we will not be quorate, what do we need to do?
First, you should check your governing documents/Articles of Association as they will usually state that resignations will not be accepted if there are not sufficient trustees remaining in post. However, that may still mean that these trustees will not engage in their role, leaving gaps on the board.
You will need to inform the Charity Commission, including a plan/timeline for future trustee recruitment.
My charitiy's risks is changing fast in terms of how we deliver our services, for our staff and volunteers and our finances. How often should our Risk Register updated and communicated to the wider board now?
Charities approach risk registers in different ways. We would suggest taking a pragmatic approach, the register itself could be fairly broad but then hold regular board meetings to update. Keep detailed minutes to be read alongside the risk register.
Please get in touch in case you would like more details.