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New charities rely on peers for support, Commission survey finds

A Charity Commission survey reveals that charities seeking to register with it use other charities as a source of support almost as much as the sector regulator itself.  

In its report released today to mark Trustees' Week, Birth of a charity: Governance of organisations seeking registered charitable status, the Commission comes out on top for ‘sources of support accessed by trustees’, polling 44 per cent.

But 41 per cent of the 667 respondents claimed that their trustees went to ‘another charity working in a similar field’ for help in fulfilling their responsibilities for advice.

The third ranking option was ‘lawyer/legal expertise’, with 29 per cent. Only 23 per cent said that they go a local infrastructure body such as a council for voluntary services. Local authorities clocked a 21 per cent response to the multiple-choice question.

The online survey ran from August 2011 to August 2012, during which time over 6,000 new register applications were submitted.

The sector regulator points out in its report that whilst these findings do not represent the views of existing charities, many of them are “the charities of tomorrow”.

Most trustees come from within

Only 10 per cent of respondents said they advertise trustee vacancies on the internet and a mere 6 per cent do so in the press.

Instead, the most common way of recruiting trustees was from the organisation’s existing staff, volunteers or members (53 per cent). Personal connections and word of mouth made up 46 per cent and 39 per cent of responses respectively.

Around a third of respondents (34 per cent) said they were seeking to recruit new trustees and only 26 per cent had encountered problems in recruiting them.

Younger: ‘Recruit trustees as widely as possible’

“The findings of this research show that there’s much more charities can do when recruiting trustees,” said Sam Younger, CEO of the Charity Commission. “With a third of these [new charities] actively looking to recruit trustees, more needs to be done to raise awareness of the wide range of benefits trusteeship can bring to the individual, such as the opportunity to develop new skills and take on responsibility for major decisions affecting the charity’s drive and direction.

“I would encourage charities to recruit as widely as possible for new trustees, targeting young people in particular, who are often able to bring new talents and perspectives to an organisation’s work.”

Most new applicants are small charities

The Commission revealed that the majority of survey respondents were affiliated to smaller organisations: 87 per cent stated their annual income as £100,000 or below, with 60 per cent quoting £25,000 and under. This ties in closely with the overall distribution of registered charities, where 18 per cent have a £100,000 plus annual income.

The survey data on sources of income showed that participating organisations tend to rely on donations, grants and fees/subscriptions, rather than service contracts, earned income or investments.

This article was taken from www.civilsociety.co.uk – http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/governance/news/content/13744/