Association of Chairs is a membership organisation and registered charity which exists to support people chairing charities and not-for-profits in the UK. We are regularly updating this page of resources to help Chairs navigate through these challenging times. We are also running regular briefings and surgeries for our members. We welcome new members or you can sign up for our e-newsletter to be kept informed.
For general guidance on chairing, you can download a free copy of A Chair’s Compass.
Please make a note of when the information below was published, as the situation is constantly changing. This information is given in good faith, but we cannot take responsibility for its accuracy.
Governance and compliance
The Charity Commission has said that its ‘approach to regulation during this period will be as flexible and supportive as possible.’ Read the Charity Commission’s latest guidance. It has also announced that charities having difficulty filing their annual return can now apply for an extension.
If you are considering new activities, remember to check your governing document to make sure they are within your objects and that you have the necessary powers, for example, to make or seek loans. Charities wanting to apply to change their objects, to expand their reach during this crisis can do so. The Charity Commission is prioritising all coronavirus related applications and enquiries. So make sure to mark any enquiry with COVID 19 or Coronavirus.
On 23 April, the Charity Commission issued new guidance for charities facing financial difficulties.
Remote meetings: We have created some top tips for remote board meetings.
We asked law firm Bates Wells for guidance and they’ve kindly put together a guide on holding charity trustee meetings during the coronavirus crisis.
The Chartered Governance Institute has also created some guidance on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on AGMs.
The FSI has written a good article on making online board meetings work.
Procurement policy: The Government has issued a Procurement Policy Note, setting out guidance for all public bodies on payment of suppliers to ensure service continuity during and after coronavirus.
Independent examiners: The Charity Commission has updated its guidance for independent examiners during coronavirus. (updated 15 May)
Social distancing and other health measures: See the Government’s advice on social distancing and protecting older people and vulnerable adults.
Responsibilities as an employer: Do look at the ACAS guidance and the Government’s guidance which is now updated daily. Some legal firms have also published advice on this, see for example these briefings from VWV and from Bates Wells.
DBS checks: The Charity Commission has issued new guidance covering DBS checks.
NCVO has some useful guidance on volunteering in lockdown.
HR support: Cranfield Trust offers a free HR helpline and support for charities.
Job retention/ furloughing: Read the latest guidance on the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This includes detailed guidance on who is eligible for the scheme. There is also helpful guidance on how to claim your employees’ wages through the scheme. The scheme has been extended until October 2020. (updated 13 May)
Charity Finance Group has collated some resources on looking after yourself during the coronavirus crisis.
Mind has some practical tips for looking after your wellbeing while you’re staying at home.
Emergency funding: The National Lottery Community Fund is opening applications for the Coronavirus Community Support Fund on Friday 22 May at 10 am. (updated 21 May)
Charity Bank has compiled a list of emergency funds which charities can apply for.
CAF has an emergency fund and resources for charities.
The Clothworkers’ Foundation is offering new emergency grants for charities in need of financial support.
You can also find out more about funding in NCVO’s blog Coronavirus and charity funding: the latest developments.
Support for Association of Chairs members: PwC is offering a free fraud and insolvency helpline for our members. Log in to the Members’ Area to access this special offer. (updated 30 April)
Financial guidance: NCVO has useful information on contingency planning and the financial implications of coronavirus on charities. It includes funding opportunities, government funding and the furlough scheme.
The Charity Tax Group has a useful page on sector lobbying efforts, financial support packages, government guidance, tax and finance updates.
Reserves and restricted funding: The Charity Commission has updated its guidance on using reserves and restricted funding.
Good Finance has a Resource Hub full of information designed to support charities through coronavirus.
Financial difficulties: If your charity is getting into financial difficulty you may wish to consult CC12 the Charity Commission guidance on managing financial difficulties, especially if there is a risk of insolvency.
State aid: Charity Tax Group has some useful guidance on the Government’s new Expanded Retail Discount and the implications this may have on some charities’ state aid limit.
SORP: Read the latest guidance on charity SORP (Statement of Recommended Practice).
Charity closure: Small Charities Coalition has established a special task group to deal with organisations facing imminent closure in the next 30 days. If you are a member of SCC (membership is free for charities under £1 million) – you can email email@example.com. Please note this is only if you are considering winding down or closing.
Fraud: A number of cases of fraud and cybercrime, directly relating to coronavirus, have been reported. The Charity Commission has updated its guidance on minimising the risk of fraud.
Charity accounts and auditing: The Charity Commission has updated its guidance to auditors for reporting material issues. It includes a new section covering times of national emergency (p23-p24).
Funders and donors: If you are facing financial difficulty and have grant funding – talk to your funders. If donors (individual or institutional) have given money for a specific initiative, which is not now possible because of timing, travel or other restrictions, ask if they will give permission to carry funding over or allow it to be applied differently. Read more about funders who are saying they will be flexible, and see if your funder is on this list.
Fundraising events: Do check the advice from the fundraising regulator on what you need to think about when cancelling fundraising events. The Institute of Fundraising also has advice for fundraisers.
Charity Digital is offering digital support to charities. You can submit any questions you may have about using digital platforms during the coronavirus crisis. Charity Digital also has a list of technology organisations which are offering support for charities.
If you need help with digital solutions consider Digital Candle. They offer a free one-hour call. They are currently prioritising support for charities who are looking for urgent help to ensure business continuity (remote working, tools to support their communities etc).
TechSoup is running a range of courses to help organisations adjust to remote working, including using SharePoint, Microsoft Teams and Outlook effectively.
Board Intelligence is offering free access to their online board and leadership portal until the end of June 2020. (updated 28 April)
Legal issues and support
Association of Chairs hosted a webinar with law firm Bates Wells on 8 April. It focused on what Chairs need to know, from a legal perspective. A free recording of the webinar is available to watch again.
You can seek pro bono legal help via organisations like LawWorks and Trust Law. Bates Wells has launched a new helpline for charities, with free 30-minute consultations with one of their charity specialists and you can book your consultation here. (updated 28 April)
Easing the lockdown
Impact on charities: NCVO has shared some considerations for charities in light of the government’s recovery strategy. (updated 13 May)
Charity shops: The Charity Retail Association has created a pack with information about things to consider when shops reopen. (updated 13 May)
Other sector sources of advice
NAVCA – are playing a leading role at a local level, do check out their list of members to find local sources of support.
ACEVO – offer guidance and support to Chief Executives of not for profits.
Volunteering Matters – is offering a service which connects charities with businesses/businesses who can offer skilled support.
Reach Volunteering – can help you find volunteers to support you in areas such as taking your services online, working remotely, financial forecasting and navigating change.
Cranfield Trust– is offering a range of support services to charities at this time.
We have been working with colleagues across the charity sector to secure reassurances from the government that charities will receive the support they need, avoiding closures and redundancies. On 8 April, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced plans to support charities with £750 million in funding.
Read more about the announcement in our news story.
We’re keen to support Chairs as best we can during this unprecedented situation. If you’d like information on any areas which we’ve not yet covered please email us.