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Charity sector news: A post-holidays catch-up

By Beth Wood 5 January 2017

While we may have been relaxing over the holidays, the ever-scrolling news cycle doesn’t rest. As we’re left with mince pie crumbs and 2017 stretches out before us, we bring you the charity news you missed to prep you for the new year.

A brief look back

We don’t believe in reinventing the wheel, so before we dive in, here are a selection of voluntary sector news summaries from 2016 (in case you’re missing that much-loved year already): NCVO’s Policy Round-up: December 2016, Third Sector’s Review of the year that was 2016 [paywall] and Pioneers Post’s 2016: The year in social enterprise.


Concerns over ties to terrorism

Come New Year’s Day, the Sunday Telegraph’s front page featured a splashy story about potential links between charities and extremism. Apparently, the number of times the Charity Commission shared concerns about such links has risen steeply from 234 to 630 in just three years. The Commission’s chairman William Shawcross ‘called for Muslim charities to work with the regulator to tackle the threat of extremists taking them over to further their murderous objectives.’

A charity tax to win back public trust

In an effort to repair the ‘damaged image of Britain’s charities’, Shawcross was again quoted in a Telegraph interview regarding his plans ‘for a new levy to pay for an advice line for trustees who are concerned about wrongdoing…’ The cost of the whistle-blower hotline will range from £60 for the smallest charity to as much as £3,000 a year for the biggest.

Brexit looms large

A Guardian Voluntary article breaks Brexit down for charities, focusing on challenges and opportunities. Brexit is a topic among many up for discussion in another Guardian piece that interviews nine charitable organisations’ leaders about where the sector may be headed in 2017.

Charity Commission announces plans for using new powers

The Charity Commission published its plans to use its new powers to issue official warnings and also to disqualify individuals from trusteeship. NCVO blogged that both the revised guidance and revised explanatory statement reveal that the Commission was receptive to issues raised by NCVO and other organisations.

Opportunities for small (and mighty) charities

On 13 December 2016, Department for Culture, Media & Sport and Rob Wilson MP launched new initiatives aimed at placing small charities at the heart of public service. They announced three measures to address the challenge of getting small charities into the public service supply chain.

ICYMI, NCVO launched new website, How Charities Work

NCVO is seeking feedback on a new beta website they launched, aimed at the public, ‘to answer some of the common questions people have about how charities work.’ Check it out and let them know what you think: howcharitieswork.com



Trump’s inauguration marks the end of his charity

Prior to taking office on 20 January 2017, US President-elect Donald Trump plans to wrap up his charitable organisation, The Donald J. Trump Foundation to avoid ‘even the appearance of any conflict’ with his role as president—though the criminal investigation into its activities will likely scupper such plans. Accusations flew back and forth over both Clinton and Trump foundations during US election season, adding to negative rhetoric surrounding charities in America and around the world.

Social change leaders make the New Year’s Honours List

Pioneers Post reports that three prominent UK social enterprise figures have been recognised in the New Year’s Honours List. Several leaders from the voluntary sector also made the cut.

George Michael’s passing reveals his anonymous philanthropy

To top off a year of high-profile celebrity deaths, singer George Michael’s passing on Christmas day hit the news—as have revelations about his secret giving. This raises questions of the pros and cons of anonymous philanthropy, something NPC has talked about in the past. The Times juxtaposed Michael’s generosity to the ‘feeble’ efforts of corporations, urging them to do more.