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Telling your story well: Trustees reports

Trustees Report

Trustees Report

Public benefit reporting by charities

A recent study by the Charity Commission for England & Wales showed that although 90% of the annual reports discussed what the charity was setup to do and its activities during the year, many did not go on to consider what difference they had made to their beneficiaries and/or include the required statement that the trustees had considered the Commission's guidance on public benefit reporting. If the purpose of the charity sector is to make a difference to the lives of the beneficiaries it serves, it appears too few charities are reporting fully on how well they are doing.

The reasons why 54% of the charities included in the study did not meet the public benefit reporting requirement were:

  1. The annual report includes a public benefit statement, but doesn't explain who benefits from the charity's activities.
  2. The annual report explains who benefits from the charity's activities, but doesn't include a public benefit statement.
  3. The annual report doesn't explain who benefits from the charity's activities and doesn't include a public benefit statement.

Do charity annual reports and accounts meet the reader’s needs?

The purpose of the trustees' annual report and accounts is to tell the reader what the charity is set up to do, what it achieved and how it spent its money. Three quarters of a sample of 107 sets of charity accounts filed with the commission provided basic information on charitable activities. They showed how the trustees had used the charity's money and included either an audit or independent examination report. A quarter of charities failed to provide this basic information and fell well short of the standard the public has every right to expect.

The main reasons for failure were:
  1. The accounts as a whole were inconsistent or not transparent.
  2. The accounts did not balance or were incomplete.
  3. A proper independent examination had not been carried out.
  4. The annual report did not cover the charity's objectives and/or its charitable activities.
  5. One or more of the annual report, independent scrutiny report and the accounts were missing.

For further advice contact:

tel: 0207 993 5016


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