Concerns raised about more than 500 charities last year

Concerns raised about more than 500 charities last year
Concerns about clothing collections constituted "a significant number of complaints" in 2019, said Helen Martin, CEO of the Charities Regulator.

Concerns were raised about 521 charity organisations last year, up 23% on the previous year, the Charities Regulator has confirmed.

Members of the public raised 649 concerns about registered charities last year, one-quarter of which (166) related to bogus clothing collections.

The 2019 annual report of the Charities Regulator found the overall number of concerns was down by 5% on the previous year but more charity organisations were the subject of concern - up from 423 in 2018 to 521 in 2019.

Close to half of all concerns (46%) related to the “legitimacy” of the charity while governance, financial control and transparency issues were also raised.

“Concerns regarding clothing collections constituted a significant number of the concerns that we received in 2019 and so, with the support of our colleagues in An Garda Síochána, we launched a national radio campaign in November urging members of the public to check the register of charities before donating,” Chief Executive of the Charities Regulator Helen Martin said.

There are now more than 10,500 charities and 67,000 trustees registered across the country.

While 130 charities were removed from the register, 845 new charities were registered in 2019.

No new investigations were mounted last year although the regulator did publish the findings of an investigation into the Galway University Foundation, which highlighted concerns over spending on travel and accommodation and made a number of recommendations.

2019 also saw an improvement in charities filing financial accounts on time, which they are required to do within 10 months of the end of the financial year.

In 2016, just 42% of charities filed their financial accounts on time but compliance has improved year-on-year with 75% filing on time last year.

Of the 10,514 charities registered by the end of 2019, more than half (54%) served the community, close to one-third (30%) were involved in education, and one-in-ten (9%) were involved in relieving poverty or economic hardship.

Some 875 charities reported an income of more than €1 million, though the vast majority - 80% - had an income of less than €250,000.

Almost three-quarters (72%) of all charities had fewer than 20 volunteers and 43% had no employees. Half were unincorporated organisations, such as associations or a board of management, 44% were incorporated companies, and 6% were set up as charitable trusts.

Minister of State for Community Development and Charities Joe O’Brien said his Department was working with the regulator on changes to strengthen the regulatory functions of the Charities Act.

The regulator said it would continue to monitor the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the charity sector.

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