Number of concerns raised with the Charities Regulator increased significantly in 2018, up by 29% on 2017

Charities Regulator publishes its 2018 Annual Report

Work on registering charities continued apace in 2018 with the total number of charities on the Public Register of Charities by year-end reaching 9,799, according to the Charities Regulator’s 2018 Annual Report, which has been published today.  In addition, there were 60,866 charity trustees on the Register of Charities as of 31 December 2018.

Mr Seán Canney TD, Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development welcomed the publication of the Annual Report, saying: “2018 was another year of milestone achievements for the Regulator.  For example, I was delighted to launch the Regulator’s Charities Governance Code in October, which provides proportionate and realistic requirements for charities and their trustees.  I would like to congratulate and commend the Chair and the Board of the Regulator, and the management and staff, for their hard work and effort during 2018.”

In 2018, 686 individual concerns were raised with the Charities Regulator in respect of 423 organisations.  The number of individual concerns raised represents an increase of 29% on the number of concerns raised in 2017.  Of the concerns raised with the Charities Regulator in 2018, approximately 83% raised issues in the combined categories of ‘Governance Issues’, ‘Legitimacy of a Charity’ and ‘Financial Control and Transparency’.

Commenting on the increase in concerns raised Helen Martin, Chief Executive at the Charities Regulator said “By analysing the concerns raised, we were able to identify a number of recurring issues, which enabled us to issue key guidance in areas such as managing conflicts of interest along with public notices on matters such as clothing collections by unregistered organisations.  Statutory investigations into the affairs of two charities were also concluded and two inspectors’ reports were published.  The reports highlighted governance issues of relevance to charity trustees more generally and therefore are an important source of learning for the charity sector as a whole.”

Ms Martin said, “Good governance is essential for increasing levels of public trust and confidence in the charities sector, as many charities raise funds to help meet the cost of their charitable work directly from the public or indirectly through State funding.  The Charities Regulator launched the Charities Governance Code in 2018 and is committed to supporting charities to implement the Code through the provision of practical guidance, template documents and training.”

2018 in numbers:

  • 9,799 charities on the Register of Charites at the end of 2018
  • 1,321 organisations gained charitable status
  • 579 charities had their details removed from the Register of Charities
  • Net increase of 742 in number of charities from previous year on the Register of Charities
  • 2 Inspectors’ reports published
  • 686 concerns received – up 29% on 2017
  • 32% of concerns related to governance issues
  • 7 public engagement meetings
  • 118,673 visitors to website
  • An online portal for registration applications, an enhanced Register of Charities and a new website launched
  • Charity Services Committee considered 326 matters arising under the older Charities Acts

Commenting at the launch of the Annual Report, Patrick Hopkins, Chairperson of the Charities Regulatory Authority said, “The increase in activity highlights our sustained commitment to regulate charities in the public interest, improve their management and administration, and ensure compliance with the law.”

Looking ahead, Mr Hopkins said, “As we move into the period of our second statement of strategy, I am confident that we will continue to build on our achievements over the last three years as we move closer to our vision of a vibrant, trusted charity sector that is valued for the public benefit that it provides.”

“Over the next three years we will see further organisational development of the Charities Regulator as we continue our work to build an effective and efficient regulatory authority using the resources available to us,” he said.

During the lifetime of our new three-year strategy, it is proposed to move the Charities Regulator to a position of greater corporate independence to facilitate the direct employment of staff with the required expertise to deliver on our mandate.  Commenting on this Ms Martin said, “Like other public bodies, attracting and retaining appropriately skilled and experienced staff at a senior level was particularly challenging in 2018.  It is in the public interest that we continue to focus on securing required resources so that we can deliver on our mission to ensure compliance with the law and support best practice in the governance, management and administration of charities.  This is why we will continue to work closely with our parent Department to fill vacant roles and to ensure that the overall staffing level in 2019 increases and moves closer to the approved level that has been acknowledged as being required to effectively deliver on our statutory functions.”

Significant progress was made during 2018 in relation to:

  • Charities Governance Code: The delivery of the Charities Governance Code which will play a key role in building public trust and confidence in Irish charities now and into the future.
  • Evidence-based research: The Charities Regulator commissioned Indecon to carry out research in relation to the size, economic and social impact of the charity sector. This research, which was published in mid-2018, confirmed that charities in Ireland play a vital role in our society – the findings highlighted the significant economic and social impact and the huge public benefit to communities across Ireland and globally.
  • Accounting and Reporting Regulations: Further progress was also made in relation to increased transparency of charity finances as staff of the Charities Regulator worked with external consultants to prepare draft Accounting and Reporting Regulations in anticipation of amendments being made to provisions of the Charities Act 2009.
  • Guidance materials: The guidance available to charity trustees and potential registration applicants was expanded through the publication of key materials including ‘What is a Charity?’, ‘Registration Guidelines’ and ‘Guidance on Charities and the Promotion of Political Causes.’
  • Digital Platform System: The roll out of the first phase of the Charities Regulator’s new Digital Platform System, including the launch of a new online portal, known as ‘MyAccount’ for registered charities and those wishing to register as a charity. The new platform also included an enhanced Register of Charities and a modern, interactive website. The new system will unify the various business units and in addition to introducing greater efficiencies in regulatory processes, it will facilitate the delivery of on-demand management reporting and analysis capability that in turn will ultimately support compliance, monitoring and other key regulatory activities.
  • Statement of Strategy for the period 2019 to 2021: The process of developing the second Statement of Strategy for the period 2019 to 2021 commenced in 2018 following a consultation with external and internal stakeholders. The second statement will focus on embedding and developing the achievements of the first strategy. The Charities Regulator will continue to carry out its mandate to increase public trust and confidence in charities through effective and proportionate regulation. To fulfil this role, it will continue to work to support charity trustees in complying with their legal obligations, and take steps to address non-compliance where necessary.


 Charities overview

The annual reports filed for registered charities provide information on the activities of charities in a given period and show how each charity furthered its charitable purpose for the public benefit, details of its income, expenditure, numbers of employees, types and estimated number of beneficiaries in the reporting period. Analysis of annual reports for 2018 shows that 2,175 registered charities declared income over €250,000.

Charities are required to provide information on numbers of employees. For annual reports filed in 2018, 85% reported employing fewer than 20 employees with just 7% of charities reported having more than 50 employees.

Charities Regulator Annual Report 2018 is available here –

A full list of registered Irish Charities can be accessed here on the Public Register of Charities: