The Charities Regulator publishes third Statement of Strategy focussing on proportionate regulation and greater communication with charities and the public
New radio advertising campaign encourages members of the public to come forward if they have concerns
The Charities Regulator has today launched its third Statement of Strategy, which includes a new classification standard for charities and the provision of more support material and guidance to ensure that they are well-governed.
In research carried out via consultation with a range of stakeholders ahead of devising the new strategy, building public trust and confidence in registered charities was seen as the top priority, and there was a call for greater support for charities. The Regulator has responded by including a new strategic objective that “registered charities have available to them the guidance and materials necessary for them to be well governed.” While much information and guidance is currently available on its website and via videos of training events and webinars, the organisation plans to increase its focus on communication and stakeholder engagement in order to increase awareness of the Charities Regulator, the Charities Governance Code and the important role of charity regulation among registered charities and the wider public. Coinciding with today’s launch is a new radio advertising campaign to encourage people to come forward and log concerns through the Charities Regulator’s website about any registered charity or other organisation or group that may be in breach of charity law.
The Charities Regulator’s Chairperson, Patrick Hopkins commented:
“When we published our second statement of strategy three years ago, we could not have imagined the vastly altered environment that we would find ourselves in a year later because of the Covid-19 pandemic. There is no doubt that we, along with our stakeholders, have faced considerable challenges since March 2020.”
“The central role that approximately 11,500 registered charities supported by over 75,000 committed charity trustees along with volunteers and charity staff have played, and continue to play, in Ireland’s response to the pandemic, highlights the value and importance of the charity sector to our society in a time of crisis.
“There is no doubt that registered charities will continue to play a crucial role as we move beyond the pandemic, and the Charities Regulator will ensure that it continues to provide charities with the guidance and tools required to embed best practice in the governance of their organisations so that they can maintain the support of the public, funders, and donors on which they rely. As a regulator, we at the Charities Regulator remain committed to ensuring that our work serves to enhance public trust and confidence in registered charities. The Charities Governance Code remains an important tool for achieving this so a key focus for us over the next 3 years will be to further imbed best practice in governance among registered charities through implementation of the Code.”
New Classification Standard
As part of its new Strategy, the Charities Regulator has committed to further developing the Register of Charities as a single authoritative source of data on the sector by incorporating a classification standard. The introduction of a robust and fit-for-purpose charity classification standard and the publication of that data on the Register during the period of this Strategy, will facilitate a better understanding of the charity sector as a whole and will serve to significantly enhance the value of the Register to stakeholders and other interested parties.
Urgent requirement for much needed Charities (Amendment) Bill
The Regulator also recognises the importance of continuing to advocate for the enactment of much-needed legislative amendments through a Charities (Amendment) Bill to facilitate the levels of transparency and accountability that the public clearly expects. A risk analysis carried out as part of the development of its new Strategy, identified a failure to enact these essential amendments as the greatest threat to the Charities Regulator’s ability to meet its strategic objectives over the next 3 years.
Welcoming the publication of the new Strategy, Minister Joe O’Brien T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development and Charities, added:
“The role of Charities Regulator has never been more important, providing clear, consistent and proportionate guidance and regulation to our registered charities. Since the publication of its previous Strategy, it has proved itself to be both dynamic and responsive to the needs of charities, who continue to deliver essential supports and services within our communities.
This Strategy, developed in consultation with stakeholders, provides a distinct and thorough framework for the development of sectoral regulation and the continued advancement of good practice in the coming three years. The proposals contained within the forthcoming Charities (Amendment) Bill will further enhance the functional capacity of the Regulator to provide effective oversight and simultaneously produce greater transparency, trust and confidence within the sector.”
Effective and proportionate regulatory oversight and supervision
Noting that effective and proportionate regulatory oversight continues to be key strategic objective in its new Strategy, the Charities Regulator’s Chief Executive, Helen Martin, commented: “While members of the public will be familiar with many of the larger charities, the reality is that the majority of registered charities in Ireland are small local organisations. When you exclude schools, approximately 58% of registered charities have income of less than €250,000 and approximately 25% of registered charities have income less than €25,000. Given the significant diversity that exists in the charity sector, we therefore recognise the importance of ensuring that our regulatory responses are both effective and proportionate.”
Expanding reach of communications to charities
The Regulator intends to build on its experience to date, by focusing on expanding the reach of its communications and published guidance materials, particularly in respect of smaller charities. The Strategy notes that the valuable insights and feedback provided by registered charities in response to the Charities Regulator’s survey of charities in 2021, will form the basis for further reflection and improvement in this area.
Please find full strategy at the following link: https://www.charitiesregulator.ie/media/2358/cra-statement-of-strategy-2022-2024-ga.pdf