At Work: Law and Governance - Regulation with Rosie

The Charity Commission's Rosie Chapman looks at complaints procedures.

Our report into charities' complaints procedures, Cause for Complaint?, certainly struck a chord with charities and, importantly, those who use their services. The key finding - that most charities didn't have a complaints procedure - resonated strongly with the sector when it was published.

So what happens next? Developing effective complaints management is something for the sector to take forward. I foresee two main challenges.

Make it manageable

The first is how to make complaints management manageable - particularly for smaller charities or those that believe it won't work for them. It has been pointed out there is little in the way of guidance - our report is a sound base if you're starting from scratch, but more targeted advice is needed.

One size never fits all, but the Directory of Social Change has already publicised some suggested templates for commonly encountered procedures. Specialist knowledge in the sector has actually existed for some time, and we have found good examples of charities already working together to share good practice.

Larger charities helping smaller ones is something to be encouraged - partnership working in specific areas is an example of collaboration paying off.

Maintain the momentum

The second challenge is to ensure the momentum caused by the initial report doesn't fade. This is where the benefits of good complaints management come in. It's also increasingly an issue as the boundaries between public, private and voluntary sector bodies blur and meet, and as the public's expectations as 'consumers' of services grow.

Innovating quickly in response to emerging needs has always been a third sector speciality. It would be encouraging if we took up this particular baton.

- Rosie Chapman is executive director of policy and effectiveness at the commission.

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