COVID-19

Charities: time of need

Like many organisations, charities are feeling the impact of reduced income as an indirect result of coronavirus. We look at some of the key points to consider for charity trustees in the weeks ahead.

The economic impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic is far-reaching, with charities among the worst-affected as philanthropic activity takes a backseat for many. The Charity Commission has advised trustees that their approach to regulation during the COVID-19 pandemic will be as flexible and pragmatic as possible.

As such, the Commission has shared some initial guidance for charity trustees and CEOs, which we have summarised below.

FRP is on hand to support businesses through the ongoing challenges of COVID-19. If you have any questions about the future of your charity, please do not hesitate to contact Phil Reynolds. In addition to the advice below, trustees should also consider the other government schemes and grants that are available to their charities.

Can a charity use reserves and restricted funds to help it through the crisis?

Many charities will be understandably concerned about their financial position. Trustees should therefore consider their plans and see if they need to amend their financial and operational planning. If they are facing financial challenges, trustees are encouraged to think about whether or not certain projects, spends or activities can be stopped or delayed in order to focus on essential spending.

Reserves can be spent to help cope with crisis situations and, as such, it could be appropriate for losses to be incurred in the short-term, but these should be mitigated as far as possible. Although restricted funds will remain subject to the restrictions the funds came with, it may be possible to amend these restrictions with the donor’s agreement.

Can I cancel or postpone my charity’s AGM or other key meetings?

Trustees may decide to cancel or postpone their AGMs and other critical meetings. Although, if trustees decide to so, they should carefully minute the decision. Not holding certain meetings could make it difficult for trustees to finalise annual reports and accounts and, as such, charities should advise the Charity Commission of any delays by contacting filingextension@charitycommission.gov.uk.

Many businesses and organisations are currently holding virtual meetings and conference calls. Where there are no clauses in the charities’ governing documents to allow this, trustees should again minute the decision as the best way to proceed in the circumstances.

The full guidance can be found at on the GOV.uk website which you can access by clicking here.

Related team

Philip Reynolds

Philip Reynolds

  • Partner
  • Restructuring Advisory
  • London