In February of this year, the Charity Commission took the very unusual step (prompted by the furore surrounding Age UK’s arrangements with E.on) to issue a regulatory alert.

The Charity Commission took the opportunity to remind charities that their name and reputation are valuable assets which trustees must protect. Trustees must have effective oversight of any partnership or agreement with commercial organisations and be able to show that their decisions are made in the best interests of the charity and that they have acted responsibly. The Commission made it very clear that it expects trustees to review any current arrangements to satisfy themselves that they remain in the charity’s best interests.

Given the changes that will need to be made to commercial participator and professional fundraising contracts from October, this would be a good time for charity trustees to review their commercial partnerships and tighten up their arrangements with their trading subsidiaries.