October 28, 2022


The Charity Commission held their annual public meeting on 12th October in Cardiff. Orlando Fraser KC, the chair of the Charity Commission paid tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and spoke about the impact of the oncoming storm of the financial living crisis on the charitable sector. He also acknowledged that the crisis poses challenges for charities themselves – with most having ever increasing demand from their beneficiaries, but suffering from local authority cuts and reductions in fundraising from donors, themselves feeling the pinch.

Speaking 6 months after his appointment in April, Mr Fraser KC also reiterated his intention for the Commission to be “fair, balanced and independent”. He spoke to his previously stated desire to “deal firmly with intentional wrongdoers and those who are grossly negligent”, to ensure that trust continues to maintained in the interests of the entire sector. Finally he expressed his view that the Commission should be free from political influence, saying “under my leadership, the Commission will be independent – of party politicians, of government, interest groups, of the media and of the sector itself. We, and I, will report to Parliament, to which we are directly accountable for our overall performance. But in enforcing charity law, we will be beholden to no-one, and nothing, but the law itself”. Following the disastrous procedure under which he was eventually appointed Chair, I’m sure many will welcome this confirmation!

One thing that was snuck into the speech was the Commissions desire to introduce a trustee portal account for all 700,000 trustees that there are in England and Wales. It was described as a “the trustee’s personalised online Bible.” The principle is a good one, but I fear that the Charity Commission will come up against a problem they’ve been struggling with for as long as they’ve been in existence – how to connect with trustees who don’t want to be connected with. It was telling that only 900 people signed up to watch the annual public meeting – with no confirmation of how many of those were trustees, but at most 0.13% of the target audience!


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