The Charity Commission has published a sample of the excuses given by charities for not filing their annual accounts on time.
According to the commission, the reasons given by charities have included "I’m not involved with this charity’s requirements, I am a trustee" and "I already did it… last year". Other excuses cited by the commission have included "I don’t have internet access", which was sent by email, and "the person with the password is in New York and isn’t contactable because of a hurricane".
Under the rules, all charities with annual incomes of more than £25,000 are required to submit accounts, but a report published by the commission last year found that 32 per cent of charity accounts submitted were not of "adequate quality" in the financial year to 31 March 2013. However, this represented an improvement from the previous year, when nearly half (46 per cent) were considered inadequate.
The commission said in a statement that not filing accounts on time potentially risked harming the charity’s reputation and, in extreme cases, could jeopardise trust in the charity sector as a whole.
To avoid late filing, the commission advises trustees not to wait until the end of the 10-month deadline to submit documents, to ensure that trustees have a password to access the commission’s online services, and to understand that it is the collective responsibility of the trustee body, not just the treasurer or secretary, to file documents.
William Shawcross, chair of the Charity Commission, said in a statement: "Although these excuses are amusing, there is a serious point – after a difficult year for charities, it is essential they do all they can to be open about their finances. I hope trustees take note and file their accounts. If not, they could be hearing from the commission soon."
A sample of the excuses given by charities for filing their accounts late
Your website was closed
I’m only a volunteer
Joe does this; it is not my job
The person with the password is in Malaysia
The person with the password is in New York and isn’t contactable because of a hurricane
I’m not involved with this charity’s requirements, I am a trustee
The school provides us with office space, but it’s the school holidays and they are shut
I cannot log on to your site; what is my charity number?
Can I log on to your site from someone else’s computer?
I already did it… last year
I’m not a trustee; I’m on the committee
My secretary schedules to file each year (on deadline day) and she is off sick
The accounts aren’t ready so I recorded zero income and zero expenditure so we wouldn’t show as being in default on the Register