Charities need to be open about their work. It is important to engage the public and to ensure that they are regularly communicating about their work.
Developing a culture of openness in charities can be challenging because there are some things which are confidential and should be treated as such. However committees should consider where the boundaries are and how they can communicate with people about their organisations. The creation of the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has given the public more access than ever to information about charities.
Charity Commission Annual Reporting
The Charity Commission has consulted about guidance for charities in relation to annual reporting.
It is a legal requirement for registered charities to report annually to the Commission. Through the annual reporting programme registered charities will be required to:
- complete and submit an online annual monitoring return form
- submit their accounts and reports.
Trustees Annual Report
One of the key things that Trustees need to be aware of is the requirement for them to produce an annual report. The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland states,
"Trustees’ annual report: is a report produced each year by the charity trustees along with the charity’s accounts. The Trustees’ annual report tells the public:
- about your charity’s work,
- where your money comes from,
- how you have spent your money in the past year.
Smaller charities can prepare a simplified trustees’ annual report while larger charities must provide more detail. All charities must explain how the activities undertaken during the year have furthered the charity’s purposes for the public benefit."
Larger charities must produce their Trustees Annual Report in line with Charity SORP guidelines. Trustees are reponsible for ensuring that the report contains:
- reference and administrative details - including your charity’s name, Northern Ireland charity (NIC) number, address and the names of each of the trustees
- structure, governance and management – including how it recruits trustees
- exemptions from disclosure
- objectives and activities – including a summary description of the purposes of the charity
- achievements and performance - including a summary of : activities and objectives in the year, achievements and performance, including reporting on its public benefit
- a statement as to whether the charity trustees have complied with the duty to have regard to the Commission’s Public benefit requirement statutory guidance
- financial review including any debts and details of your reserves policy (if applicable)
- funds held as custodian trustee on behalf of others.
The report must specify the financial year to which it relates and include the signature of one or more of the charity trustees, who have been authorised to approve the report on behalf of the trustees, and the date the report was signed. CCNI Draft Guidance: Accruals Accounts