Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I Read The Charities Act 2009 So You Don't Have To

With the Charities Act 2009 now in place and a regulator on its way, it's time to get your house in order. But at 82 pages the Act is not exactly a pleasant read - most of the interesting fundraising stuff comes towards the end, and I use the word 'interesting' very loosely.

The good news is that I read it so you don't have to. Here's a summary of what you, as a fundraiser, might need to consider:

  • Non-cash collection (eg. Direct Debits) is finally acknowledged as a donation so follows the same/similar rules as cash collections, eg. permit requests.
  • 'Reasonable commission, or reasonable remuneration or expenses' are permitted for fundraisers.
  • Collection boxes must display the collection permit number, and they must be sealed. It must also display the charity name and registered number.
  • Public-facing collectors must wear a 'garment' (LOL) that displays the charity name and registered number.
  • Any DD/Standing Order forms must display the charity name, registered number, bank account details and the collection permit number.
  • The Minister can make further regulations to ensure fundraising does not 'unreasonably intrude' on anyone's privacy, is not 'unreasonably persistent', does not 'result in undue pressure, and does not involve any 'false or misleading representation'.

The Register
  • If you have a CHY number you'll automatically join the register of charities (and have to pay an annual fee).
  • If you don't have a CHY number you'll need to apply to join the register within 6 months of it launching.
  • If you're applying then new information you'll need to provide includes names and addresses of all trustees, all bank accounts, financial accounts, and the manner in which you have raised or propose to raise money. You'll also need to give details of agents/consultants you work with.
  • If you're not registered it will be an offence to advertise or imply that you're a charity. Asking for donations is a big no-no.

Definition of a Charity
This changes a little bit, but not significantly. Your organisation still needs to be of public benefit under one or more of the following categories:
  • The prevention or relief of poverty of economic hardship;
  • Advancement of Education;
  • Advancement of Religion
  • Any other purpose that is of benefit to the community.

The Act & Regulator In General
  • Will be reviewed within 5 years.
  • The Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltachet Affairs will appoint the first Chief Executive (Jobs for the boys!)
  • There will be a Charity Appeals Tribunal - a sort of Jedi Council if you're looking to appeal any decisions against you.

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