Regulator to 'monitor charities on a proactive basis' under new strategy

Regulator to 'monitor charities on a proactive basis' under new strategy

Helen Martin, CEO of the Charities Regulator.

The Charities Regulator has outlined its plans to bring in a new classification system, based on which sector each organisation is working in, and its income level, as well as targetting an enhanced compliance and enforcement programme.

Outlining its Statement of Strategy 2022-2024, its third overall, the watchdog paid tribute to the work charities have done since the start of the pandemic and said its efforts at improving compliance needed to be underpinned by supporting legislation.

Among the aims under the new strategy is to develop a classification standard. According to the Charities Regulator: "We will further develop the Register of Charities as a single authoritative source of data on the sector by incorporating a classification standard.

The introduction of a robust and fit-for-purpose charity classification standard and the publication of that data on the register during the period of this strategy, will facilitate a better understanding of the charity sector as a whole, and will serve to significantly enhance the value of the register to stakeholders and other interested parties."

The strategy also outlines plans to implement a risk-informed programme "to monitor registered charities on a proactive basis and intervene in a proportionate manner, targeting areas likely to have greatest impact", as well as "a targeted compliance and enforcement programme in relation to the filing of annual reports".

An awareness campaign is also planned, to educate the public and organisations operating in the community and voluntary sector as to what a charity is and is not under Irish law.

There are approximately 11,500 registered charities, and the regulator deals with around 18,000 email and phone contacts each year.

According to the regulator: "We also recognise the importance of continuing to advocate for the enactment of much-needed legislative amendments through a Charities (Amendment) Bill to facilitate the levels of transparency and accountability that the public clearly expects. 

"A risk analysis carried out as part of the development of this strategy, identified a failure to enact these essential amendments as the greatest threat to the Charities Regulator’s ability to meet our strategic objectives."

The Charities Regulator’s chief executive Helen Martin said: “While members of the public will be familiar with many of the larger charities, the reality is that the majority of registered charities in Ireland are small, local organisations.

When you exclude schools, approximately 58% of registered charities have income of less than €250,000 and approximately 25% of registered charities have income less than €25,000. 

Given the significant diversity that exists in the charity sector, we therefore recognise the importance of ensuring that our regulatory responses are both effective and proportionate.”

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