Summary of Charity Commission Guidance on Covid-19
The Charity Commission (CC) for England and Wales has provided coronavirus / Covid-19 guidance available here
In other jurisdictions similar guidance has been issued. The key points from the CC are summarised below:
Using Reserves and Restricted Funds
- What are your short, medium and longer term priorities? Can any projects, spends or activities be stopped or delayed?
- Can any reserves be released to cope with short-term financial difficulties?
- Are there any legal restrictions on the use of these reserves?
- What is the impact of using reserves on financial resilience and donor relationships?
- Seek professional advice if necessary.
Postponing or Cancelling AGMs and Other Meetings
- If the AGM or other critical meetings are cancelled or postponed, this decision and the reasons for it should be recorded to demonstrate good governance of the charity.
- This is particularly important in the case of the AGM which may make it difficult for charities to finalise the annual reports and accounts.
- If charities are facing difficulties in completing their annual returns and accounts, charities can email a dedicated address to ask the for an extension.
- The Commission asks charities to try to get their report and accounts in on time.
Reporting Serious Incidents to the Charity Commission
- No changes to the usual process. Trustees must decide whether to make a report.
- If, as a result of coronavirus, a charity has seen such a fall in income as to engender its future viability, or has been so impacted by staff/volunteer absence as to be unable to continue its operations, this should be reported as a serious incident.
- The CC signposts charities to its safeguarding guidance as a source of support on how to keep people safe, and what steps Charities should take if you identify concerns. Now, more than ever, it is critical to keep people safe.
- This remains unchanged from previous guidance.
Review of Charity Objects
- Objects the CC identifies most relevant to supporting the fight against COVID-19 include:
- the relief of poverty
- the relief of need hardship or distress
- the relief of the elderly
- the advancement of education or advancement in life of young people
- the advancement of health
- The CC notes that trustees of charities with other objects may also be able to adapt and respond to COVID-19 either directly or indirectly. Animal welfare charities would fall under this category.
- The CC notes that if a charity’s existing objects do not allow it to help, trustees may be able to amend their governing document to change them.
- If the charity is a company or a CIO, a change to the objects is a ‘regulated amendment’ which would require CC consent.