Reporting serious incidents
The Charity Commission believes that there is significant under-reporting of serious financial incidents which put charities at potential risk of further harm, including reputational damage.
Following a consultation, new and improved guidance has been issued by the Charity Commission on ‘How to report a serious incident in your charity’. A serious incident is one that results in or risks significant loss of assets, damage to the charity’s property or harm to the charity’s work, beneficiaries or reputation. The most common incidents will be fraud, theft, terrorism or safeguarding issues.
Under the new guidance, charities should report serious incidents as soon as possible after they occur using the dedicated reporting facility at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All trustees are ultimately responsible for ensuring that a report is made, even if they delegate the task. Additionally, all charities with income over £25,000 must report such incidents in their annual return.
The guidance provides a checklist on how to report and what information the Charity Commission requires. It also gives an example table setting out events that should and should not be reported under various categories of incident. Additionally, the guidance includes a ‘Fraud and theft information checklist’ of items to consider when reporting. It includes a reminder that reports should also be made to the police/Action Fraud or other appropriate authority.
By reporting, trustees can demonstrate that they are taking appropriate action to limit reputational, and actual harm to their charity. If contacted directly, the Charity Commission can confirm that the trustees acted responsibly. By collecting prompt and full disclosure of serious incidents, the Commission will be able to issue timely advice, guidance or alerts to warn other charities of risks and how to manage them.
For more information on the reporting of serious financial incidents please contact Elizabeth Irvine