Advice from the Charity Commission around charity governance
From: The Charity Commission 19 March 2020
Guidance to help with running your charity during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Understandably, charities are concerned about what to do during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, so we have set out our response to the most commonly asked questions.
We want to assure charities that our approach to regulation during this uncertain period will be as flexible and pragmatic as possible in the public interest, whilst helping trustees to be aware of and think about the wider or longer impact of their decisions on their charity.
We will update this information with responses to further questions on an ongoing basis.
Can I cancel or postpone my charity’s AGM or other key meetings?
Coronavirus is having a major impact on charity events and the government’s health advice may lead to some charities having no choice but to decide to cancel or postpone their AGMs and other critical meetings.
If as trustees, you decide it is necessary to do so, you should record this decision to demonstrate good governance of your charity. This is particularly important if it is not possible to hold your AGM which may make it difficult for you to finalise your annual reports and accounts.
Wherever possible, we would ask you to try to get your annual reports to us on time. However, where the situation impacts on the completion of annual returns and accounts, charities with an imminent filing date can call us.
0300 066 9197
Open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Can I use video, teleconferencing and the internet in place of face-to-face meetings?
In the current situation, it is becoming increasingly difficult to hold face-to-face meetings. Some charities have clauses in their governing documents that allow them to meet virtually or to use telephone facilities, so we advise trustees to check their governing document and see if they can make amendments themselves to facilitate changes as to how or when meetings are held.
Where there is no such clause in your governing document and you decide to hold meetings over the phone or using digital solutions, we will understand but you should record this decision and that you have done this to demonstrate good governance of your charity.
What do I need to report to the Charity Commission?
We appreciate that during the coronavirus pandemic the charity sector will face extremely demanding and ever-changing challenges. Charities’ primary interest, and ours, must be looking after the public and the communities that we serve.
It is ultimately the responsibility of the charity trustees to continue to report serious incidents using our current guidelines, and we will continue to ask trustees to use their judgement in deciding whether an incident is significant in the context of their charity and should be reported to us.
We will continue to prioritise those incidents that place individuals at risk, or incidents that have had a significant impact on a charity’s operations and therefore serious harm to the charity’s work.