Ireland’s Charity Landscape: Increased regulation driving increased optimism.

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19th Jan 2017

Ireland as a nation is renowned for its charitable outlook and support of the less well off in society. However a series of scandals over the last few years have dented  the public’s good faith and brought into focus the issue of corporate governance procedures. That, in turn, has led to an increase in scepticism over how charitable funds are spent.

Indeed it has been estimated that the charity sector in Ireland lost as much as 40% of donated income over these years. Management remuneration has also come under scrutiny This is unfortunate, as a small number of poorly managed cases are tarnishing the vast majority of excellent organisations and causes.

So what has happened in the recent past in and what does the landscape look like now? As we know, the Charities Act 2009 allowed for the establishment of the Charities Regulator. This new enforcement body came into existence in October 2014 and has spent the last 2 years building its presence in the sector and driving greater transparency.

Its core objectives are stated on their website and include:

·         A desire to increase public trust and goodwill.

·         To promote transparency and compliance.

·         To ensure all charities are fully accountable.

·         To maintain a register of charitable organisations

·         To carry out investigations in accordance with the Charities Act.

·         To provide statistical information to the public on all aspects of the charities governance, costs and general administration.

(see www.charitiesregulatoryauthority.ie)

At the recent Good Governance Awards (18.10.16), in his  Keynote Address, Mr. John Farrelly – Charities Regulator CEO, said that he was ‘very conscious of the fact that the faith, trust and confidence of the Irish people in Charities has been damaged by the controversies of the last number of years. The reputations of the many thousands of volunteers and staff working in these and other charities, and indeed that of the charity sector as a whole, have been impacted……’

One of the more obvious outcomes of this squeeze on funding is the need for charities to increase fundraising drives, raise their profile in the public mind and in effect compete with each other for charitable donations and support. This in turn poses challenges to insurers responsible for  accommodating these activities.

Mr. Farrelly went on to say that ‘over the next three years, we will consolidate and further develop the Register of Charities. This work will help to strengthen the accountability of the charity sector, and provide a valuable source of information for charity funding bodies, donors and beneficiaries. We will balance the needs of small and rural charities with the needs of larger organizations with a national or international focus. We will facilitate charities to be compliant. However, where required, we will escalate and enforce the law in an appropriate evidenced based manner.’

The vigilance and focus of the regulator is to be greatly welcomed and it signals a new and onerous governance standard for the industry. This is of no threat to the majority of well managed charities who continue to recover from the recent challenging times and work towards a continued and bright future.

 

Ecclesiastical is owned by a registered charity and is heavily involved in supporting the sector and providing bespoke insurance products.

 

 

Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc (EIO) Reg. No. 24869. Registered in England at Beaufort House, Brunswick Road, Gloucester, GL1 1JZ, UK. Registered Branch in Dublin, Ireland. Reg No. 902180. 2nd Floor, Block F2, EastPoint, Dublin 3, DO3 T6P8

 

 

Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority in the United Kingdom, and is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland for Conduct of Business rules.

 

M Brennan 16.1.17

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