I’d quite forgotten that a new Charities Act is underway until I was reminded by a question that arrived recently. The bill is still in committee stage and will be a while before it becomes an act. It’s a considered attempt by the government to make life simpler for charities by removing some of the bureaucratic hurdles that can make life difficult, and at times costly, for them. This is a summary of the main points.
1. Trustees will be given more freedom to amend their governing documents.
2. The process of land disposal will be simplified.
3. Charities will have more freedom regarding permanent endowments; they’ll be able to borrow up to 25% of their value.
4. More freedom for charities to buy goods from trustees provided adequate controls are in place.
5. Rules on failed appeals will be simplified.
6. Rules on ex-gratia payments will be eased
These are the headlines; if you want more information drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you want to drill down yourself go to this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/charities-bill-factsheet/charities-bill-factsheet
How Many Charities are There?
If statistics interest you, there are almost 170,000 charities registered in England and Wales. In reality there are far more than this. David Ainsworth, editor of Civil Society in one of his excellent articles believes there are probably more than 400,000 voluntary organisations. He backs this figure up by listing the different kinds of charities that aren’t registered, Boy Scouts, Guides etc, all the churches and schools and military charities, so forth, and of course we mustn’t forget Scotland and Northern Ireland. I’m trying to estimate how many trustees there are in the UK; probably not far short of half a million, plus over 10 million volunteers. That’s a lot of people putting a lot of effort into putting something back into a society that’s done so much for them.
Lord, we live in a world of inequality where so many lack even basic necessities.
Remind us that we are all equal in your sight, all of equal worth, and loved by you who made us.
Help us to give ourselves, working together to make this a better world, reflecting your values of sacrifice, love, kindness and generosity.
Where the hungry are fed, the lonely are visited, the troubled are comforted, and the homeless housed, and no one is seen as worthless.
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