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New Chair of Charity Commission Gives First Major Speech

10 May 2018

Tina Stowell, Baroness Stowell of Beeston

Baroness Stowell gave her first major speech since her appointment to delegates at the annual conference of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) in London a few weeks ago.

Baroness Stowell spelt out the importance and value of all the good charitable work in the UK but highlighted the major issue of losing trust with the public.

Major research has recently been undertaken that shows that people now trust charities no more than they trust the average stranger they meet on the street.  Other research suggests that the public are now 25% less likely to donate, following the recent high profile problems at Oxfam and Save the Children.  Just as some big businesses have failed the reasonable expectations of the public, so have some charities and she highlighted that expectations of charities are even higher than general business because charities are expected to provide public benefit.

The public want to be able to trust that, no matter how you slice a charity, what you’ll find is a relentless focus on its charitable purpose.  And that means demonstrating that the way charities prioritise, behave and conduct themselves is focussed solely on delivering the right results for the people they say they support.

So what do we all need to do about this?  Baroness Stowell is in no doubt that the Charity Commission has a key role in rebuilding public trust in charities as vehicles for charitable endeavour.  She plans to “raise the bar” to enhance charity standards.  As well as the investigation regime when problems arise, she wants to help charities head off issues before they become problems.

Chas Bishop, Chief Executive of the Space Centre says it is very important that people feel able to trust charities to dedicate their resources to providing services for the public benefit.  The vast majority of charities do brilliant work in support of health, education, social wellbeing, animal welfare and other aspects of life in which the public purse is otherwise extremely stretched.  They only thrive with the public’s confidence that all of its hard-earned cash is going to a good cause.

John Knight, Chief Executive of LOROS hospice says it is vital that charities work to re-establish the confidence of the public in how they are manged and how effectively they put to work all funds donated to them.  Strong Trustee Governance is crucial in achieving this by monitoring the senior team and charity activity.  LOROS is fortunate to have an excellent Board that retains a critical insight into the charities conduct and supports the increased efforts being made to improve the reputation of all charities.

by Roger Merchant, LBV Director, May 2018