Charity Management

Welsh charities are in good health, says Charity Commission

12 October 2012

No less than 90% of Welsh charity trustee respondents score themselves 'extremely' or 'very' well in how they manage their charities, according to a new survey by The Charity Commission

It is the first survey of its kind that the regulator has conducted amongst trustees of Welsh charities, looking at how well they think they are running their charities, and where there is room for improvement.

Charity trustees are the people who oversee the work and strategy of a charity, and are mostly volunteers giving their time freely. There are 50,000 charity trustees in Wales.

The survey, completed by trustees of over 500 Welsh charities with an income over £100,000, provides a vital snapshot into views and attitudes towards governance. Feedback from the survey was very positive, says the commission, and corresponds with recent findings from Compass Partnership where 89% rated their boards as either 'extremely' or 'very' good at discharging their legal and regulatory duties. The survey had over 2,000 additional comments made by respondents about their experiences.

However this is such an important area that the report, which forms part of the Charity Commission's Good Governance Initiative, emphasises it needs continuing review and improvement. Of particular importance to many of the charities surveyed is the need to attract younger people and people from more diverse backgrounds to trustee boards.

This is the first time that there has been a comprehensive assessment by trustees in the way that charities in Wales are run and has provided many with a basis for reviewing governance practice. Other finding by the commission included:

  • 48% of charities that responded receive more than half their income from publicly-funded or grant-making bodies
  • 94% of trustees surveyed felt they behave with integrity
  • 93% of trustee respondents felt they acted in a way that is open and accountable

There are over 8,000 charities registered in Wales with a joint income of £1.9bn. The Charity Commission's Wales office has developed a Good Governance Initiative to highlight the importance of effective governance and encourage trustees to regularly assess how they run their charities.

Harry Iles, head of the Charity Commission's Wales Office based in Newport, said; "Through our work, we come into daily contact with trustees and have been impressed by their dedication and the time they freely give. However, we have also experienced what has gone wrong when governance is poorly managed, with the potential to damage not just the charity's reputation, but wider public trust and confidence in the sector. Whilst we recognise that this survey represents a relatively small snapshot of attitudes, we hope it will encourage more charities to think about their governance and look forward to discussing the findings in more detail at our public meeting."

The Charity Commission will discuss the findings of its survey into good governance in Wales at its next public meeting in Cardiff on Thursday November 22nd and trustees of Welsh charities are invited to come along. The event, to be held at Future Inns, Hemingway Road, Cardiff Bay, is hosted by the Commission's chief executive Sam Younger and head of the Charity Commission Wales, Harry Iles.

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