14 Feb 2018

WCVA have released a statement following Monday’s announcement that the Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into Oxfam.

The Charity Commission inquiry follows shocking media coverage about allegations of misconduct by Oxfam staff members who were involved in the charity's Haiti Programme in 2011. The Commission is concerned that Oxfam did not 'fully and frankly' disclose material details about the allegations and its handling of the incidents at the time.

Should the public be concerned about charities?

Fortunately incidents such as these are extremely rare, and the overwhelming majority of charities not only operate in a professional manner but make huge contributions to society. In Wales we only have to look at some of the organisations recognised at the Third Sector Awards Cymru last week as examples of this.

However, this incident is a reminder to trustees of the importance of maintaining high standards of governance and safeguarding in their organisations. Episodes of this kind cause untold harm to beneficiaries and serious, long-term damage to public trust and confidence in charities.

It is the responsibility of trustees to ensure that their organisations are well-governed and safeguarding is prioritised, but only last week the Commission's annual compliance report revealed that:

'Over half of serious incidents reported by the charities to their regulator related to safeguarding concerns.'

As the national umbrella body for the third sector in Wales, WCVA is here to support the sector in maintaining high standards of practice in governance and safeguarding, ensuring that everyone who comes into contact with their organisation is kept safe and does not experience harm, and that organisations are well run.

WCVA and the national network of county voluntary councils (CVCs) can provide information, guidance and signposting on governance and safeguarding issues, and we'd encourage any organisation to contact us for help getting these important areas right.

Charity Governance Code

Good governance in charities is fundamental to their success. It enables and supports a charity's compliance with the law and relevant regulations. It also promotes a culture where everything works towards fulfilling the charity's vision. Visit www.charitygovernancecode.org to find out more.