Yesterday the House of Lords Select Committee on Charities published a report, “Stronger Charities for a Stronger Society” which brings together their findings from over a year of detailed evidence gathering. Over 150 pages, the report recognises the contribution of charities and makes a series of recommendations and conclusions around a number of key themes. There are a hundred of these in total but in summary these include:

Improved Governance

  • Regular skills audits for trustee boards
  • Training and development for charity trustees
  • Induction processes for new trustees
  • More diversity on trustee boards to better reflect a range of skills, experience, age and background
  • Maximum terms of office for trustees

Increased Transparency

  • All charities (except the very smallest) should have a simple website or public social media page
  • Funders and donors should evaluate the transparency of charities when considering requests for funding
  • Charities should seek independent evaluation of their impact on their beneficiaries

Commissioning Reform

  • Commissioners should embed a partnership approach to service design and provision
  • Social Value should become an integral part of commissioning
  • Realistic and justifiable core costs should be include in core costs
  • Long term contracts should be the norm to allow effective delivery

The role of volunteers

  • Funders need to be more receptive to requests for resources for volunteer managers and co-ordinators, especially where charities are able to demonstrate a strong potential volunteer base
  • Greater flexibility should be in place for employees to take time off for charitable work

Charities and digital technology

  • The capacity of the sector to embrace digital varies and for those who are not embracing it there is a risk of ‘organisational stagnation and decay’.
  • Charities should actively consider including a digital trustee on their board

The report also looks at local funding and urges local authorities to “maintain or revive grants wherever possible” and also makes the point that infrastructure bodies should work more closely together to “explore collaborative service models to raise awareness among charities of the support available, and improve the accessibility and coherence of this support.”

Reaction to the report has been largely warm, with a general consensus that it has covered the major issues – however there is a degree of scepticism from some areas as to whether anything will change. A report in Third Sector highlights the support from sector bodies such as ACEVO and NAVCA while an article in Civil Society asks why the press weren’t more interested in the report.

You can read the report in full here