Charity Commission for Northern Ireland publishes report on four areas of concern

Frances McCandless, chief executive of the commission, says the report sets out what charities can do to ensure fundraising activities do not damage their reputations

Frances McCandless
Frances McCandless

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has received 154 complaints about charities since January 2011, a report by the regulator has revealed.

The report, Concerns Received About Charity Fundraising: A Thematic Report From the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, highlights four key themes in concerns expressed to the regulator about fundraising in Northern Ireland.

The report says that of the 154 complaints, which relate to all areas of charity work, 135 had been raised by the public and 19 had come from within the commission or from another statutory body.

Although 119 are described in the report as concluded, a spokeswoman for the commission said she could not confirm how many of the cases had resulted in regulatory action by the commission.

The report highlights four key themes relating to concerns about charities, which cover street and public collections, trading subsidiaries, financial transparency, and fundraising agents and professional fundraisers.

The commission has said that its findings are designed to help charities avoid "common fundraising pitfalls" in order to maintain public trust in charitable organisations.

These include ensuring that charities apply for fundraising permits before engaging in street fundraising and the importance of contractual agreements when using fundraising agents or professional fundraisers.

Frances McCandless, chief executive of the Charity Commission Northern Ireland, said: "The Charity Commission appreciates the negative impact that the wider economic situation has had on charities. Fundraising is a critical aspect of the work of a charity and also a very visible and important point of contact between charities and the public.

"This new report sets out what trustees can do to ensure that their charity fundraising activities do not pose a reputational risk to the organisation".

The report is the second that the commission has produced this year based on concerns it has received about charities.

In January this year, the regulator published a report after receiving its 100th complaint, looking at issues such as poor governance and financial control, lack of transparency and charity disputes.

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