In the current situation it will be the charity sector that will be called on to support people impacted by coronavirus, increasing demand on services at a time when income will be reducing. There will be increased pressure on Trustees and Management teams to make difficult decisions.
The government has said that it will look at what support can be provided to charities affected. Details of the package of support are expected to be announced at the end of this week. We are also starting to see appeals for donations to response and recovery funds and the charity the National Emergencies Trust.
Charities will be able to benefit from some of the wider measures introduced by the Chancellor on 17 March.
Charity Commission guidance
The Charity Commission recently issued some guidance for charity trustees in dealing with meetings and compliance matters. This covered:
- Meetings (including the AGM): These should be cancelled or postponed following the government’s health advice, with the decision minuted to show good governance.
- Annual reports: Every effort should be made to file annual reports on time, but the Charity Commission has promised to be pragmatic in dealing with cases where this is not possible, and charities should contact the Charity Commission if there will be an issue. The number is (0300 066 9197).
- Virtual meetings: Remote meetings, via video or phone links may be used. Some charities governing documents allow this; if not they should document the reason and consider changing their rules for future meetings.
- Reporting: Reporting requirements remain in place, including the reporting of serious incidents.
Charity Tax Group
The Charity Tax group have also released guidance on the various measures and support available for the charity sector.
National Council for Voluntary Organisations
The NCVO have also released information to help charities covering protection of staff, volunteers and beneficiaries and contingency planning.
Both of the websites are being regularly updated.
Advice has also been issued for the general public to try to ensure that their good intentions in giving to charities to help in the current crisis sees funds donated to genuine charitable organisations and not to those seeking to take advantage of the turmoil to defraud well-meaning givers. Further information on this can be found here.
This is an evolving situation and we will have more information as time and the situation moves on. MHA Moore and Smalley has set up a dedicated coronavirus hub to provide information to our clients as and when it is available, and this will be updated as further guidance on support for charities is received.
If you would like to discuss anything further please contact a member of the charities team at MHA Moore and Smalley.