I was surprised at low level of collaboration, says Sam Younger

Charity Commission chief tells conference this might be because charities are passionate about way they do things

Sam Younger
Sam Younger

Sam Younger, the chief executive of the Charity Commission, told an audience of representatives from international charities yesterday that he was surprised at how few mergers and collaborations were being considered in the charity sector.

"One of the things I found surprising coming into the Charity Commission was how few of those asked said they were considering collaboration," he told delegates at the Crowe Clark Whitehill international non-governmental organisation conference in London.

"However, a lot of charities are set up by those passionate about the way they do things, and maybe they are not open to collaboration."

Younger, a former director general of the British Red Cross, was talking about charities and spending cuts in a speech updating delegates on the commission's regulatory perspective. He said he believed international charities were in a stronger position than those working in the UK.

"The international aid budget hasn’t been cut and it’s also striking that an appeal such as the DEC Haiti appeal is able to raise vast sums," he said.

But Younger said international charities still faced significant difficulties, including the moving value of the pound against foreign currencies and the possibility of a drop in voluntary income.

Younger said the commission would need to substantially change the way it operates in order to deal with funding cuts that will shave more than a quarter off its annual budget.

"We may be in an environment where we have to raise the bar for where we investigate complaints," he said. "It may be that we can investigate only where considerable amounts of charitable funds are at risk."

Smaller charities might have to rely more on the guidance on the commission’s website and receive less bespoke guidance, Younger said. But although this might be a sound approach for most regulators, it might not be most appropriate for the charity sector.

"In most regulators you should say ‘put your resources where the most money is’," he said. "But it may not be the case in this sector. It may be that the smaller charities need more help and the larger charities can be left to get on with it."

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