- Nearly one-third of charities’ accounts filed of ‘unacceptable quality’.
- Campaign to launch in January targeting charities in default.
- Filing accounts is key to transparency and public trust in charities.
Today the Charity Commission has published a sample of excuses given by charities not filing their accounts on time. Despite all charities with income over £25,000 being required to submit accounts, thousands are in default. Excuses received by the commission include: “I don’t have access to the internet” [sent via email], “I’m not involved with this charity’s requirements, I am a trustee”; and “I already did it…last year”.
This comes after commission research found earlier this year that 32 percent of accounts submitted were not of ‘adequate quality’ in the 12 months up to 31 March 2013 – based on a random sample. This represents an improvement from the previous year analysed, where nearly half (46 percent) were inadequate.
If a charity’s income is over £25,000, accounts must be filed with the commission. Failure to do so indicates a lack of transparency on the part of the charity. It may affect the charity’s reputation and in extreme cases can jeopardise trust in charity as a whole. To avoid this, the commission advises trustees follow 3 easy steps:
- do not wait until you approach the 10 month deadline; when you have the documents, submit them
- ensure you have a password to access the commission’s online services or ensure that you know who within the charity has the password
- know that submission is the collective responsibility of the entire trustee body, not just the treasurer or secretary for example
The commission receives 60,000 sets of accounts each year. Almost 7,000 are required to have their accounts formally audited. 12 months ago the commission began a 3-year programme of transformation in the way it works. When complete it will enable the commission to more effectively monitor accounts and intervene earlier when problems arise.
William Shawcross, chairman of the commission said:
Although these excuses are amusing, there is a serious point – after a difficult year for charities, it is essential they do all they can to be open about their finances. I hope trustees take note and file their accounts. If not, they could be hearing from the commission soon.
A sample of excuses received by the commission for not filing their accounts include:
I cannot file my accounts because…
- I don’t have internet access [sent by email]
- Your website was closed
- I’m only a volunteer
- Joe does this, it is not my job
- The person with the password is in Malaysia
- The person with the password is in New York and isn’t contactable because of a Hurricane
- I’m not involved with this charity’s requirements, I am a trustee
- The School provides us with office space but it’s the school holidays and they are shut
- I cannot log onto your site, what is my charity number
- Can I log onto your site from someone else’s Computer?
- I already did it…last year
- I’m not a trustee, I’m on the committee
- My secretary schedules to file each year (on deadline day) and she is off sick
- The accounts aren’t ready so I recorded zero income and zero expenditure so we wouldn’t show as being in default on the Register
- It’s the accountants responsibility not mine
- Our computer caught fire and we lost all the financial data
- Deadline day falls on a religious holiday so we couldn’t file [sent by a multiple defaulter]
- I’m only new
- No-one told me when we registered
- You never sent me reminders
- I don’t believe in using computers
- Computers are satanic
- Our office was broken into and the thieves made off with the financial records
- My boot came open on the motorway and the papers went down the M1
- The commission also received one set of incomplete accounts with bite marks
Notes to Editors
The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, acting in the public’s interest, to ensure that:
- charities know what they have to do
- the public know what charities do
- charities are held to account
A charity must submit accounts to the commission if:
- it is set up as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO)
- its income exceeds £25,000
- the commission has requested them