Ignore safeguarding at your peril, trustees warned

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Report suggests international charities must find better balance between fundraising and risk management.

9th July 2019 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

Trustees of international charities need to find a better balance between fundraising and safeguarding, a report has warned.

The International Charity Benchmarking Report, from accountancy firm Haysmacintyre, found that just 8% of organisations said safeguarding was one of their principal risks, compared to 77% who identified future funding as a key challenge facing their charity.

Fewer than one in ten organisations specifically mentioned Brexit as a principal risk, while only 25% said security of staff was a concern.

The analysis echoes the findings of the recently published report by the Charity Commission into how Oxfam dealt with claims of serious sexual misconduct by its staff in Haiti, which suggested Oxfam's priority was to protect donor relations and avoid donor withdrawal.

Steve Harper, Haysmacintyre's charities director, said: “Our benchmarking report analysed the wide range of risks that boards of international UK charities are managing, and it’s surprising how few stated safeguarding as an issue. We would have expected more charities to prioritise this area.

“Given the challenging funding climate faced by many charities, it makes sense that most identified income generation as a focus. However, if charities fail to manage safeguarding effectively, they could harm their reputations and longer-term ability to fundraise.

“Oxfam has raised the alarm for all charities to review how they balance the focus on governance and risk management with the pressing concern for financial sustainability.”

Haysmacintyre has produced a guide covering risk management strategy for trustees, which is available to download from its website.

Mr Harper said it was “vital” that trustees are aware of the principal risks involved in charity operations and confident that they are being managed “appropriately”.

He added: “Given the uncertainty over the UK’s plans to exit the EU, it is surprising how few international charities disclosed Brexit as a specific issue. It is vital that global charities consider and plan for the potential impact of changes to the political environment in all the countries they operate.

“Many charities will have started to feel the impact of Brexit, and for those in receipt of EU grants, it’s important that they plan for risks to income streams and take proactive steps to mitigate against it.”