Recent events reported in the media about alleged inappropriate activities involving staff and representatives of a major international charity in their work abroad, provides a timely reminder for charity trustees and staff about important aspects of charity governance.
Whilst much time is devoted to promoting the objects of a charity and to fund-raising, it is important to be aware of the need to protect those the charity is trying to support (and so protecting the charity itself), by ensuring appropriate procedures for recruiting, training and supervising the charity’s staff and other representatives (whether paid or voluntary) are put in place, monitored and reviewed regularly.
Whilst very few charities wish to turn away volunteers willing to offer help, and most need to employ some staff, much reputational damage can be done by just one inappropriate event. Further, in some instances a criminal or financial penalty may be handed to the charity for a breach of law by its representatives.
Charity trustees should make time to carry out regular reviews of the charity’s staffing procedures, and ensure that their application is monitored and any breaches reported internally, and where appropriate, externally to the authorities and/or the Charity Commission. All charities need to ensure they also have appropriate safe-guarding procedures in place.
If trustees fail to have such policies and ensure their staff and representatives follow such policies it is possible than any loss suffered by the charity may result in the trustees becoming personally responsible for that loss.
The best course of action is always prevention rather than cure. If nothing else than to prevent adverse publicity from occurring in the first place. For if it has occurred it is very difficult, if not impossible, to recover from.
We set out below some helpful links to pages of the Charity Commission website on this subject. If you need any help, or just want to talk through any element of employment or other governance issue please let us know. We can supply the policies and procedures you need and help you implement them. Contact Claire Ramsden on 01482 316727.