There is too much duplication in the charity sector and too many charities are inefficient and poorly managed, the outgoing chief executive of the Charity Commission said today.
Speaking at the Ascension Trust Practitioners Conference in Manchester this morning, Sam Younger, who is stepping down on 30 June, said that too many people set up a new charity without establishing whether there was a genuine need or whether another charity was already doing similar work.
Younger said: "The result is duplication, inefficiency and, sadly, too many charities that are not managed well enough. As charities compete for resources and face ever-greater scrutiny, I think we should be bolder in saying that not all of the charities the commission registers end up making an impact. So I would urge anyone who wants to help others to ask: ‘what difference will I really make by setting up a brand new organisation’?"
He also urged charities to be more transparent and accountable about how they operate and spend their money in light of recent public criticism over issues such as chief executive pay. He said that charities sometimes fear that revealing certain information exposes them to risks such as information being misinterpreted or misused, but that such risks were relatively small.
"Failing to be transparent and allowing speculation to build is often the greater risk, especially in the long term," he said. "My view is that so long as trustees have followed our guidance in making their decisions, they should, in most cases, feel able to be open and transparent about those decisions."
He also spoke of his concerns for the future of the regulator and its funding arrangements.
The commission said last December that its annual budget would fall to about £20.2m by 2015/16, which represents a budget cut of almost 50 per cent in real terms compared with 2007/08, when it received £32.6m from government.
Younger said: "The commission is not adequately funded and needs appropriate powers. As I prepare to leave the organisation I have led for four years, this is what worries me most. I do not worry about the strategic focus of the board or the commitment of staff. I worry that the commission is being set up to fail because it is simply not given the tools it needs to do the job expected of it."
He urged the government to take action and called on charities to speak out in support of an adequately resourced regulator.