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Charities step up to respond to the Covid-19 crisis

View profile for Tim Field
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Charities step up to respond to the Covid-19 crisis

Are your Charities objectives fit for purposes?

Charities have been working hard during lockdown. The Covid-19 crisis remains financially viable and also determines how best they can help those most in need. 

When a charity diverts its funds to help deal with the effects of Covid-19, they must be mindful of the objectives under which the charity is obliged to operate and ensure that money is not spent on projects that fall outside of this. Such expenditure can have significant repercussions for the charity’s trustees. 

Trustees must be mindful of the fact that frequent money is donated to a charity because an individual feels strongly about the particular cause that the charity supports. It is not for a charity to then simply decide it wishes to spend its money on other, perhaps equally deserving, causes. 

Trustees should be familiar with their Charity’s objectives as a matter of good governance. When considering what steps a charity can take to assist with the impact of Covid-19, trustees should revisit their objectives to ensure that the steps they intend to take are allowed under the existing objectives. 

Widely drafted objectives may allow a charity to assist with the relief of poverty, the relief of need, hardship or distress, the advancement of education or the advancement of health.  Charities that benefit from this type of widely drafted objectives may well be able to form specific plans to assist in helping with the Covid-19 outbreak. Consideration should, however, also be given to the area in which support can be provided. It is not uncommon for charities to be restricted to operating in certain, specific geographical areas. 

Is your charity considering what steps it may take to assist during Covid-19?

If a charity is considering what steps it may take to assist during Covid-19, the trustees should consider the wider implications on the charity’s overall strategy and long term aims. How will diverting resources affect its core beneficiaries and strategy, similarly, are their other charities that are better placed to provide a response to Covid-19?

If, once all of the above has been considered by a charity’s trustee, a decision is made. If the charity’s objectives do not allow a specific response from the charity, trustees could consider making an application to the Charity Commission to change the charity’s objectives. If a charity wishes to amend its objectives, they should ensure that any alterations are consistent with what the charity’s current objectives are. This should not undermine the work it currently undertakes.

 

If you have concerns about the activities your charity is undertaking or wish to consider amending your charity’s objectives, contact Tim Field on 01206 217366 or email tim.field@birkettlong.co.uk.

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