New and improved online register of charities will improve transparency, says regulator

An “improved” online register of charities will help donors and members of the public understand more about how an organisation is run, it has been suggested.

The report comes after the launch of the new public register of charities, an online database containing information about what a charity does, who its trustees are, select finance information and enforcement action, if any, currently being taken against the charity.

Unveiling the new system, the Charity Commission said the improved register will increase transparency around where charity money goes and the efficient use of resources by charities.

This will be achieved by increasing the scope of the register and what information charities must hand over to comply with new regulatory laws.

This includes, for example, the number of staff within a charity that receive total income packages over £60,000, and whether trustees, who are usually volunteers, are paid for their services to the charity, as well as:

  • income that individual charities receive from government grants and contracts
  • and whether individual charities work with a professional fundraiser and whether they have specific policies in place, including on safeguarding.

New tools and functions will also help donors and members of the public quickly and easily search for charities by area or cause and help sector professionals better analyse information about the charity sector as a whole, including trends and developments in the size and make-up of the sector.

Commenting on the launch of the register, Helen Stephenson, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, said: “The Commission’s online register has an important role to play in ensuring that generosity supports good causes, and we continue to urge people to check the register before donating to be sure that their money is going to a genuine charity. By widening the public’s window into how individual charities are run, and how they spend their money, we hope people will also now feel able to make more informed choices about how and where they give.

“I also hope that the new register display will encourage charities to continue to respond to growing public expectations around transparency and accountability. We know the public expect the way charities go about their work to be consistent with the spirit of charity, and the new mirror we are holding up to the sector should help charities respond to those expectations.”

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Posted in Ken Maggs.