Cracking the charity code
The new Code replaces the Charity Governance Code 2010 and was developed following consultation with more than 200 charities.
It sets out a range of standards and measures for charities to comply with and while it is not compulsory, it does outline the general law and regulations applicable to charities and their operations.The Charity Commission has now withdrawn its guidance, instead referring charity trustees to the Code.
The Code is based on seven over-arching principles and highlights important issues for charities when considering the use and decision-making around their properties, especially relevant when assessing risk and control and undoubtedly important in property decisions. The guiding principles include appropriate delegation and ensuring all decisions are well informed.
Disposals of charity property have their own additional specific requirements. After a decision has been made by trustees to pursue a property transaction, it is common for negotiation of terms to be delegated to committees or senior management. The full board then reviews the terms before final sign off to ensure the transaction is in the best interests of the charity. For disposals of property, the board will also review the Qualified Surveyors’ Report to consider whether the disposal is on the best terms reasonably obtainable for the charity.
The Code is intended to be aspirational and acknowledges explicitly that not all charities will be able to achieve all of the standards in it. It sets out best practice for charities to work towards and recommends an ‘adopt or explain’ approach, encouraging charities to include a statement in their annual report on how they have adopted the Code or explaining areas where they have not and the reasons for this.
Strettons’ Charity & Third Sector teamwork with many charities to provide specialised property advice. We are one of the few firms of property advisors who are approved for receivership and manager work, giving advice where the Charity Commission intervenes under the Charities Act.
We regularly undertake Charities Act valuation work for a variety of charities across the religious and political spectrum and advise numerous communities on a comprehensive range of property matters. We see our work with charities as a partnership where we help guide them through the process of disposing of a property to avoid the many pitfalls and obstacles that can stand in the way. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact a member of our Charity & Third Sector team.