Many Irish charities failed to meet their obligations under
governance standards last year, according to the Charities Regulator.
The 11,506 registered charities are legally required to file annual
reports within ten months of their financial year-end, to ensure donors
and the general public are informed.
However, there has been a 5% decrease in the number of total annual
reports submitted by charities year-on-year, according to the Regulator.
By the end of 2022, 73% of reports had been submitted, which the Charity Regulator CEO described as “very disappointing”.
Helen Martin said the Charities Regulator is “currently engaged” in
an initiative to bring “non-compliant charities into compliance”.
“In the interests of the public and out of fairness to the majority
of charities that submit their annual reports on time each year, we have
signalled to the sector that we will deal decisively with those
charities that have repeatedly failed to file annual reports in a timely
manner,” she said.
Last year, the Charities Regulator received an average of 12 concerns
per week, which were typically raised by members of the public.
That was an increase of 13% in 2022 compared to 2021.
The majority were dealt with through engagement with the organisation and without utilising any statutory powers.
About one-third of the 642 concerns related to governance issues
(232, up from 209 in 2021), while one-third related to questions about
the legitimacy of a specific charity (226, up from 196 in 2021).
Other issues raised by members of the public included questions
around financial control and transparency, and queries in relation to
potential private benefit from charity activity.
Two statutory investigations were opened into charities during the year, and the regulator published one inspectors’ report.
Ms Martin said the increase in concerns was likely to be partly related to the reopening of society post pandemic during 2022.
“Not all concerns raised with us relate to registered charities, the
vast majority of which work very hard to meet their charitable purpose
in compliance with charity law, and to run their charities well in
accordance with the standards set out in the Charities Governance Code,”
“However, matters can sometimes arise which lead to concerns
regarding a registered charity, and in these cases, it is essential that
members of the public know that they can raise concerns with the
Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development and
Charities Joe O’Brien noted that with over 11,500 charities on the
Register, the work of the regulator had increased.
“In this regard, the advancement of the Charities (Amendment) Bill
2023 will be integral in underpinning the continued strengthening of the
charity sector,” he said.
The primary purpose of the amended bill is to facilitate the
introduction of Financial Accounting Regulations for charitable
Chairperson of the Charities Regulator Paddy Hopkins, said that when it came to financial reporting, the bill would “level the playing field” and “greatly enhance the regulator’s ability to ensure greater transparency and accountability in relation to registered charities”.