Following its strategic review in 2011, the Charity Commission believes that the charitable sector has a vital role in strengthening its own governance.
We're intending to develop a series of projects with key partners as part of a Review Programme ('the programme') aimed at encouraging charities to help strengthen themselves. Each project consists of two parts:
- individual charity reviews assessing a particular topic of governance
- an analysis of the combined findings of those reviews presented in a report to the Commission
The Programme will produce a number of benefits for stakeholders of the charitable sector. These include:
- promoting the sector's self-reliance in improving its own governance
- raising awareness of general good governance and particularly risk management
- using a range of expertise to develop governance for the sector
- bringing together bodies with relevant expertise to target guidance and advice in key areas
At the same time as helping themselves, charities taking advantage of these reviews will be helping the Commission identify how the charitable sector can be better supported in improving performance in key areas of governance. The lessons learnt from the reviews can help the Commission and other providers of support to the sector in developing their policies and guidance.
The Commission is planning a small number of initial projects to help develop the review programme. Each project will focus on a separate topic through the reviews.
What's new about this initiative is that it is not the Commission which is undertaking the reviews.
Each review will be a service provided free by someone with expertise in the project theme. This might be someone from a particular profession, such as an accountant or lawyer, or someone with experience of working within the sector, such as a senior charity employee or an adviser from a charity support organisation. Each charity that's reviewed will get a report assessing how they're doing in a specific area of governance.
Not a statutory inspection
We want charities to feel free to take part in these review projects without looking over their shoulders to see if we are scrutinising them.
Although we set the agenda for each review, the Commission won't be involved in the reviews. We won't even know which charities are involved in the reviews. The selection process will be undertaken by, or on behalf of, the reviewers, and will be a private arrangement between each reviewer and the charity being reviewed. The reviewers will not be acting as our agents. The reviews will not be part of our statutory functions.
Working in partnership
On each project we will work with a partner who will help us to shape the agenda, and to identify potential reviewers. The partner will be one or more organisations with particular expertise or knowledge important to the charitable sector. The partner organisation may also provide administrative support for the reviewers, including co-ordinating the selection of charities for the reviews.
Benefits for the reviewed charities
Participating charities will have access to practical tools:
- a free, confidential, consultation looking at a specific key area of their governance
- bespoke suggestions for enhancing that area of governance
- the opportunity to incorporate assessment processes into the management of their charity
Benefits for the project partners
The bodies partnering us on the project will have opportunities to:
- (where applicable) promote the participation of their members in a structured review process
- engage better with the Commission to identify new or improved products to meet the sectors' needs
Benefits for the reviewers
The experience of reviewers will be enriched, making practical contributions to the well-being of the sector: through the individual assessment and advisory opportunities; and by serving as an expert panel for the Commission, interpreting and commenting on the trends and needs identified through the reviews.
Benefits for the sector
The Programme gives the sector:
- practical examples of the benefits of governance assessments and risk management
- better signposting of relevant information and guidance from Commission and other providers
- opportunities to suggest programme topics addressing important issues of the day
Further information for charities about how the Review Programme works
See the information sheet (PDF 98kb) on our website.
Information for potential reviewers
Please note that:
- information for reviewers is project-specific
- projects may have specific requirements for the appointment of reviewers
- reviewers may have already been selected for a project
Refer to the project details below for further information.
- Review of Financial Controls and Risk Awareness
This project was run in partnership with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), and the reviewers have now delivered their findings. You can download the report from the ICAEW website:
We recommend this report to trustees as a valuable contribution to their discussions about financial controls and risk management.
- Review of the Governance of Newly Registered Charities
This project is run in partnership with the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA)
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