VCSE sector news round-up: Small Charities Data hub, updated Charity Governance Code, and more

17 December, 2020


In the rush before the Christmas holidays and the end of the year, it can be hard for your organisation to keep up with voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector news.

That’s why we’ve summarised the key stories you need to know, whether you’re a charity, a voluntary group, or another organisation that works to improve society and community.

Small Charities Data launches as a digital hub

A new digital research hub has launched, focusing on small charities in the UK. By definition, a small charity has an annual income of less than £1 million; 95% of UK charities fall into this category, but the hub points out that ‘a small charity does not mean a small impact’. You can search for datasets on certain topics, such as COVID-19, equalities, finances, government, and skills.

The hub website was created by Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, but the resource was developed by a steering group including 360Giving, the FSI, Local Giving, Locality, NCVO, Sheffield Hallam University, and the Small Charities Coalition, using data from Charity Base, New Philanthropy Capital, and others. This makes it a good example of collaboration which will benefit the whole sector.

An update to the Charity Governance Code

Following a consultation with the sector, the Charity Governance Code was updated on 7 December 2020. The main changes are updated principles on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), in response to feedback about EDI issues; and updated principles on integrity, including new recommended practice on safeguarding.

Pari Dhillon, an independent EDI consultant who advised a steering group on the changes, said:

“Great EDI has the power to create social justice in our boardrooms, charities, sector and ultimately society. Secondly EDI practice sits at the heart of good governance, and I’d argue you can’t have one without the other… To make better and more informed decisions, boards must be diverse, reflecting and centring the voices of the community and needs that the charity seeks to serve.”

Racism, bullying and dysfunctionality uncovered at The Westway Trust

A damning independent report by the Tutu Foundation has found evidence of direct, indirect and institutional racism at The Westway Trust in North Kensington. The report also uncovered a culture of bullying, historical dysfunctionality between the Board of Trustees and senior management, structural issues, and many other failings.

Lord Simon Wooley CBE said: “I’m convinced that much of Black Britain today will look at this report and the actions taken or not taken by the powers that be, to see how our society can respond to the challenge that has the potential to be so transformative.”

Other quick headlines from the sector:

  • The Charity Commission has updated its guidance for running charities in England and Wales during the COVID-19 pandemic. The main changes involve holding members’ meetings or AGMS online, by phone or by video up until 30 March 2021, and following the current guidelines on social distancing.
  • A new YouGov poll shows that people power makes others donate – the public are more likely to give money to a charity if a friend, relative or colleague tells them to, than if they see a media advert, mail shot (by post) or email. This doesn't mean our marketing should stop, but that we recognise the power of a personal recommendation, and getting supporters to talk to others about a cause. 
  • You can now download a help sheet on how to avoid charity fraud in a pandemic. The sheet was produced in a collaboration between Cancer Research UK, the Charity Commission, CFG, Fraud Advisory Panel, the National Cyber Security Centre, and the Small Charities Coalition. It includes a cyber security checklist for charities, which will also be useful for community groups and voluntary organisations.

We know that the Christmas season can be very a pressurised time for much of the VCSE sector, but we hope you will get the chance to rest and reset at the end of the year and reflect on your achievements in 2020, ready for 2021.