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Charity Community

Charity Commission unveils new 5-year strategy

Author: Kristina Kopic, Head of Charity and Voluntary Sector

Published: 06 Mar 2024

The Charity Commission recently published a forward-looking strategy designed to steer the Commission's regulatory efforts over the next five years.

Addressing stakeholders, including ICAEW, Fraser’s speech at the Commission’s strategy launch event outlined five strategic priorities. These are aimed at strengthening the Commission's role as an expert regulator while fostering transparency, accountability, and resilience within the charity sector.

  1. Fairness, balance, and clarity about the Commission’s role: At the core of the Commission's strategy lies a commitment to fairness, balance, and independence. Fraser emphasised the importance of fair processes, underpinned by clear and consistent communication about the Commission’s decisions. The Commission also aims to communicate better about what it can and cannot do within the constraints of its remit, size and budget. This includes defining the standard of evidence required by the Commission when it considers concerns that have been raised about charities.
  2. Supporting charities to get it right while tackling wrongdoing: The Charity Commission aims to support trustees in their roles while also taking decisive action against wrongdoing, reflecting a commitment to balance and fairness. The Commission recognises its own role in ensuring that trusteeship is attractive to a more diverse range of individuals. Fraser stressed that “trustees are the bedrock of the charity sector” and recognised that the voluntary principle of trusteeship cannot be taken for granted. Instead, he warned that many charities are already hampered by board vacancies and emphasised the necessity of widening the pool of potential trustees.
  3. Speaking with authority and independence: Fraser underscored the Commission's commitment to speaking with authority and credibility, free from external influence. He highlighted the important role that charities can play in bringing people together in an increasingly atomised society. He warned of the risks when charities find themselves at the sharp edge of the culture wars, declaring “I will not allow the Commission to be misused or weaponised by any army involved in fighting these wars. Whether it be led by powerful interests in politics, the media, or indeed the sector itself.”
  4. Embracing data and technological innovation: A key pillar of the Commission's strategy involves embracing technological innovation to enhance efficiency, transparency and accessibility. Fraser highlighted the importance of leveraging digital tools to streamline regulatory processes. This includes allowing charities to use digital technologies to provide information more efficiently. The Commission also commits to evolving its public register to improve transparency and accessibility of charity information so that the public can make informed decisions about a charity.
  5. Empowering Commission staff to drive regulatory excellence: Fraser emphasised the pivotal role of Commission staff in driving regulatory excellence, highlighting the need for a supportive, inclusive working culture that fosters continuous learning and development. The strategy aims to empower staff members by providing opportunities for career progression, skill enhancement and innovation. By nurturing a talented and dedicated workforce, the Commission is committed to deliver on its strategic priorities within the tight budgetary constraints of a Civil Service regulator.