Peter Cardy: The levy is a breathtaking hypocrisy

Our resident Agony adviser gives his thoughts on proposals for charities to fund the regulator

Peter Cardy
Peter Cardy

Q. What do you think about the proposal to fund the Charity Commission by means of a levy on charities?

A. It's breathtaking hypocrisy from a sanctimonious body critical of the financial affairs of the charities it regulates, and it would come on top of the tax for the Fundraising Regulator and the ludicrous fines from the Information Commissioner on the RSPCA and the British Heart Foundation. What are donors supposed to think about their gifts going to fund this bureaucratic supercargo? In a more rational world this would be a candidate for a shrieking fit from the Daily Mail, but this is not the kind of good cause that organ tends to take up these days.

Q. After a year of minor disagreements, the board I sit on has suddenly exploded into bitter factions, personal quarrels, accusations of dishonesty, threats of legal action and deliberate obstructiveness. I haven't been part of any of the cliques, but my attempts at peacemaking have been rebuffed. What can be done?

A. This is when the president or senior patron should step in, having remained above the infighting, either to establish what consensus remains or to appoint an honest broker.

If things get really serious and the board can't discharge its responsibilities, the Charity Commission might have to discharge the board and appoint new trustees.

Q. I run an established community organisation and this year we're celebrating our centenary. We've avoided any trouble and the committee manages the association like a well-oiled machine. We don't have or need much money and we rent our premises, which are well-used. Someone has said we should incorporate. Is this just bureaucratic nonsense?

A. It's not nonsense, and it's not free either. Members of your committee might not realise that they are the trustees of the association and they can become personally liable for debts or charges if the association can't meet them. Incorporation limits the liability of the trustees, though it won't protect them from cupidity or stupidity. I'm surprised your insurers haven't raised the issue. You are insured, aren't you?

Q. Our charity helps children and young people with cancer and other life-limiting diseases. The emotional impact of our work is considerable, but we still struggle for funds. I say we should be much more up front with our appeals for donations in memoriam and for legacies, but the rest of the trustees think this is tasteless and will create negative feeling. Your thoughts?

A. The rest of the trustees are wrong. Most parents, grandparents, families and friends would be grateful for a way in which they could acknowledge your work in giving their children a better end to their lives, and many will want to remember their child through a gift to the charity. Inevitably there will be a little negative reaction, but almost none of it will be from people close to the children.

Sector veteran Peter Cardy offers answers to your workplace dilemmas. Contact him at

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