The Charity Commission has released new guidance on the responsibility of charity trustees in making Serious Incident Reports (‘SIRs’) to the Charity Commission. Specifically where the incident involves one of the charity’s partners either in the UK or internationally.
The guidance is important reading for all charity trustees and those involved with the charity’s compliance. It can be read here.
When should a trustee make a Serious Incident Report?
Trustees should make a serious incident report when an incident has occurred involving one of the charity’s partners in the UK or internationally, which materially affects the charity, its staff, operations, finances and/or reputation, such that it is serious enough to be reported.
Trustees need to consider what to report, and should take into account:
- the charity’s activities.
- the charity's size.
- the charity's funding.
- the nature of the relationship with the partner.
- the nature and severity of the incident.
What should a trustee report as a Serious Incident Report?
The new guidance supplements the Charity Commission’s existing guidance on Serous Incident Reporting and sets out guiding principles to help trustees decide if an SIR is needed. The Charity Commission suggests the guiding principles about what to report start from the following three different positions:
- The incident involves the charity’s funds, brand, people or an activity that it funds or is responsible for.
- The incident does not involve the charity’s funds, brand or people but could have a significant impact on the charity.
- The incident does not involve the charity’s funds, brand or people and has little or no impact on the charity.
Importantly, the guidance reminds trustees that they need to consider making an SIR in a situation where it materially affects the charity, its staff, operations, finances and/or reputation.
The guidance does, however, highlight that "where there is a federated structure of charities operating in different locations in England and Wales and an incident happens in one local charity, we [the Commission] would generally only expect that local charity and the national/umbrella body to consider whether to report.”
In relation to incidents involving the charity’s funds, brand, people or an activity that it funds or is responsible for, the starting point for trustees should be “if they would have reported the incident if it had happened in their charity, they should carefully consider reporting any incidents involving partners.”
What counts as a charity partner?
Examples of charity partners could include:
- delivery partners or sub-contractors;
- subsidiary trading companies;
- organisations which receive funding or staff/volunteer support from your charity;
- another charity or organisation that is linked to your charity, for example as part of a federated or umbrella structure and/or where it shares the same brand with your charity.