The Charities Regulator has recently published two guidance documents to assist those involved in the administration and management of charities in Ireland.
The first document is entitled Guidance for Charity Trustees and it addresses issues such as who charity trustees are, the duties of trustees in general and their duties specifically under the Charities Act 2009.
The second document, Internal Financial Controls Guidelines for Charities, is a practical guide covering the main areas of financial control for charities, such as income, expenditure, banking (including payments and loans), assets and investments and monitoring arrangements. Various checklists for organisations are included in these guidelines to ensure they have the appropriate controls in place.
Significantly, the Charities Regulator will require trustees of registered charities to explain and justify their approach to controlling and managing their organisation, and its financial controls, if they decide not to follow the good practice set out in these guidance documents.
The Charities Regulator was established in 2014 as Ireland’s independent authority for the regulation and protection of charitable trusts and organisations. Since September 2016, it has had investigative and protective powers, including a power to compel production of documents, the power to impose sanctions for breach of obligations under the Charities Act 2009 and the power to apply to the High Court to suspend or remove the trustees of charities and other staff members. Recent months have seen a willingness on behalf of the Charities Regulator to utilise these powers to protect the charity sector in Ireland.
The Regulator has stated that further guidance documents and support materials will be developed in the coming months, covering issues such as registration, conflict of interest, fundraising and how to wind down a charity. We will keep you up to date on any developments in this area.