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March 29th, 2016ArticlesGeoffrey Hand 0 Comments

report malpracticeRecently someone asked me “Would you hold a charity accountable or file a complaint if you thought malpractice was involved, if you were a trustee?”

My short answer was “yes!”  But read on for more…

Doing the right thing

Dealing with dishonesty is a tough call wherever it happens.  All the more so in the charity sector where honesty and integrity should be axiomatic.

But once you have even a suspicion of dishonesty, especially if you are a trustee, unfortunately turning a blind eye is just not an option.

There is no dodging the fact that responsibility for dealing with issues of dishonesty and possible criminality falls fair-and-square on the charity’s trustees.

Recovery of any loss and protection of the charity’s reputation come high in the order of your responsibilities.

Failure to act may expose both you and your charity to the risk of an Official Warning from the Charity Commission.

Alone or together?

Remember you are not alone.  All the trustees of a charity are jointly responsible for its governance.

A good first step is to share the burden with your fellow trustees and act collectively.

If you are facing a conspiracy of silence – or a straight refusal of colleagues to face up to their responsibilities – notify your colleagues of your intentions and then if necessary act unilaterally.


Firstly, report criminality to the police.

Or, if there has been loss of your charity’s money or assets or harm to your charity’s work, beneficiaries or reputation, any of these constitute a serious incident which must be reported to the Charity Commission.

Ideally you will have the reassurance of a “whistleblowers’ charter” to support you when you report malpractice.

This is part of every charity’s good governance, so you should make sure your charity has one in place.

Getting prepared

The whistle-blowing charity Public Concern at Work has some useful guidance.

The Charity Commission provides an email address for you to report malpractice and they have a useful document on dealing with fraud, financial crime and financial abuse.

Or get in touch if you’d like some support during this process.

Keeping safe in the first place

Prevention being better than cure, so do go back to basics and ensure that all the essentials of good governance are properly in place in your charity.

Take my charity governance quiz for a quick health check.

And get in touch if you would like me to help you with a robust and independent governance review.

Then you’ll be able to sleep easily, and relish the engagement and satisfaction that should be the essence of charity trusteeship.

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Geoffrey Hand

Geoffrey Hand is a charity governance consultant, offering governance consultancy and training. He also provides legal services management, helping charities get better value for money from their lawyers. Geoffrey has extensive experience in the charity and legal worlds, and his mission is to help charities deliver good governance.

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