Bad charities - limiting the damage

17 September 2015

Speaking to a number of Finance Directors at the CFG Large Charities conference yesterday it was clear that the recent upsurge in bad news stories had come as a shock to many. Some organisations are getting used to being in the public eye and have the expertise to cope with the unpredictable storm of public attention. But for many, being part of the charity sector meant automatically being seen as on the side of the angels, the good guys. To be seen instead as one of the bad guys, picking on the vulnerable to raise money and exaggerating crisis to grow the size of the charity to achieve bigger salaries for staff was not what people had in mind. So how can charities adapt to this new world?

Working for a charity does not necessarily make you a better human being so it is important to recognise that a positive culture does not happen by accident. Finance Directors need to realise that culture is not just something Chief Executives do but it has a significant part to play in how effective the charity can be. A good example is management reporting which can be technically correct and produced promptly but if not take seriously or ignored is of little value.

Producing a positive culture should affect all that a charity does, enhancing reputation at all levels. This makes responding to criticism easier to do because there is confidence that the essentials have been thought about. A good Quality framework that reminds staff of their responsibilities to users/beneficiaries,  other staff and the funders can provide that ongoing organisational rhythm needed to underpin an effective culture.