Any charity in the UK that raises more than £ 5,000 a year is required to register with the Charity Commission, undergo scheduled audits and regularly submit financial statements. This gives the community confidence that donations go specifically to charitable causes. The commission has been working since 1840. Charity commision is the oldest organization in the world that oversees charitable activities and controls annual return.
By the end of 2012, according to the Charity Commission, there were about 163,000 registered charities in the UK. After registration, the Commission assigns a registration number to each of them. Using it, anyone can check the status of a charity, get information about its profitability, and, if necessary, file a complaint. There is a special website for England and Wales, where all information about organizations and the charitable sector of the country as a whole is freely available. It shows charity annual return.
All registered organizations are required to submit a detailed financial report to the Commission annually, which is also published on the official website. The delay in reporting or non-provision of data leads to the fact that the organization is removed from the list of registered ones, it loses not only its legal status, but also tax benefits and, most importantly, the trust of donors. Registration with the Commission is a kind of quality mark, a guarantee that the organization’s activities are transparent and regulated by both the government and society. Any sane person in the UK must check the legal status of the recipient organization before donating even a pound.
Charity in numbers
The Commission’s first advice to citizens is: Before registering a new charity, search among existing ones. Perhaps such an organization already exists, and you will save on administrative costs. In this country, the cost of administration is the basis of criticism of philanthropy in general.
13 years ago, in 1999, the number of registered charities in the UK was exactly the same as it is now – about 163,000. From 1999 to 2007, their number increased to 170,000. But with the onset of the crisis in 2008, the number returned to the level of 1999.
According to the Commission, as of September 2012, the total annual income of UK charities was around £ 58.5 billion. At the same time, about 10,000 registered organizations did not provide data for the third quarter and were not taken into account in the calculation.
What are charity commission?
The Commission regulates charitable activities throughout the country. It was created in 1840, when many public organizations, including the church and universities, did not want to report on income and actively opposed a single regulatory body. But in 1853, the British Parliament nevertheless passed the Charitable Trusts Act, strengthening the Commission’s position as a body directly accountable to parliament and government.
The Commission ensures that charitable organizations do not use their status for tax evasion, do not abuse it for anyone’s personal or political interests.
Another major task of the Commission is the regulation of financial reporting. It costs the Commission 47p for overseeing every thousand pounds received by the country’s charities. Between 2010 and 2011, these costs increased to 53 pence per thousand.
The Commission is responsible for investigating the activities of organizations on complaints from citizens. Last year alone, the Commission responded to 1,191 requests for information on institutions under care and conducted 85 investigations.
Commission tightens its belt
Between 2010 and 2011, the Charity Commission’s annual budget was just over £ 32 million. In 2012, funding for most government agencies was cut. The commission was no exception. A decision was made to reduce its costs by one third by 2014-2015 compared to 2011. This led to a reorganization of the Commission. In particular, it will delegate some of its investigative powers to other government, public and private commercial institutions, such as The Center for Effective Dispute Resolution, which provides services to the Department of Justice.
Commission Director Sam Younger said: “The Commission is not going to carry out fewer investigations, the reorganization is aimed at increasing their effectiveness. So, once on an investigation, funds were spent five times more than the annual return of the organization that came under investigation.” At the same time, Sam Younger did not specify either the name or the time of the incident. He only noted that such cases must stop, and the Commission is doing everything possible for this.
The Commission is now focused not on investigations, but on the prevention of standard complaints. For this, the responsibilities of the personnel are redistributed, the information on the site has become more complete and accessible, and remote control over the Internet is being introduced.
The Commission strives for greater transparency of its work and the activities of its charges, reducing the number of reports and individual consultations. At the same time, the procedure for considering accepted cases and complaints does not change in any way. All these measures, according to Sam Younger, should help to reduce the Commission’s costs of maintaining its own lawyers.