The report ‘Stronger charities for a stronger society’, produced by The House of Lords Select Committee on Charities, has been generally well received and agreed with the sector.
NAVCA said that it was “delighted to see support for grant funding, a re-commitment to not paying trustees, a recommendation that charities need to be involved in devolution, recognition that charity campaigning is a ‘sign of a healthy democracy’ and the timely expression of concern about the Charity Commission introducing charging.”
CLINKS responded to the report “I think we should take heart from this report and its recommendations……..The fact that voluntary organisations are often local people recognising issues and problems that they want to solve should make them a cherished part of our society and an important part of the public (and policy) debate about how we tackle disadvantage and support those in need.”
ACEVO observed “This is a comprehensive and progressive report that addresses itself to many issues the charity and social enterprise sector has been raising for some time. It is particularly welcome that the committee does not just air the issues but also offers real change.”
Many in the grass roots of the sector will particularly welcome the conclusions in the report that the landscape is “skewed against smaller charities” and the call on local authorities to maintain or revive grants wherever possible and account for, rather than just consider, social value when commissioning contracts. The expression of concern about the Charity Commission introducing charging of charities for being registered has also been widely welcomed.
However, the report also calls, quite rightly in many views, charities to up our game, with particular emphasis on calls for improved governance, trustee development and turnover, higher standards of leadership and greater use of digital technology.
Some smaller charities, though, are concerned about some of the recommendations that will be more challenging to implement on a tight budget and very finite capacity. The possibility of limiting trustee terms of appointment, when willing trustees are so hard to attract, has been found particularly worrying.
Overall, though, the bottom line is that charities are the “lifeblood of society” and the Government should better support them, along with local authorities and businesses. Charities might need to adapt but those on whose support they depend need to change with them.
The full report is must read for anyone involved in the sector as a leader or trustee.