More than a quarter of UK charities working internationally have named safeguarding as one of the biggest concerns they face, a dramatic increase on previous years.
Research by the accountancy firm Haysmacintyre found that, of the 180 charities surveyed, 28 per cent mentioned safeguarding as one of the principal risks to their charity in their most recently filed annual reports – up from 8 per cent last year.
Its International Charity Financial Benchmarking Report 2019 says more charities are also citing government policy and the political climate as a risk: this year it was 20 per cent, up from 9 per cent in 2018.
The most commonly cited concerns were about future funding and fundraising, the report says, which was mentioned by 58 per cent of charities, although this is a fall from 60 per cent last year.
The report says the increased concern about safeguarding is unsurprising "given the continued media focus on this area and wider awareness within the sector".
It says: "In our experience, a number of organisations in the sector are considering the approach given to reporting on safeguarding within the annual report, including the information which would be most valuable to the charity’s stakeholders."
But it says it is more surprising that concerns about Brexit were mentioned by only 15 per cent of charities, up from 11 per cent last year. However, it adds "we acknowledge that Brexit is inherent in several other risks cited, including government policy and the wider political climate".
Steve Harper, charities director at Haysmacintyre, said the research showed such charities were operating in a challenging and difficult environment that gave trustees a significant number of risks to prioritise and manage.
"The current challenging media environment has led to increased scrutiny of organisations, and charities are learning from the experience of others," he said in a statement.
"There is an increased willingness to acknowledge that safeguarding is a risk area and to talk about it publicly. Organisations are also being more open about the risks they face due to the politics of the local areas they operate in."