Summary of Charity Commission Guidance on Covid-19

 

The Charity Commission (CC) for England and Wales has provided coronavirus / Covid-19 guidance available here

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-the-charity-sector

In other jurisdictions similar guidance has been issued. The key points from the CC are summarised below:

 

Using Reserves and Restricted Funds

Key points:

  • 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

Key points:

  • 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

Key points:

  • 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.

 

Safeguarding

Key points:

  • 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

Key points:

  • 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.