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Working for charity - does this break any rules?

(12 Posts)
PleaseComeFlying Wed 13-May-15 14:11:04

Will try not to drip-feed but don't want to give away too many details.

DH has worked for a small charity for 9.5 yrs. Has always done well, been promoted internally, gets good results in his area of expertise, etc.

About four years ago, the MD v sadly died from a long-term illness. The management committee decided to put his partner (romantic not business) straight into his position - she had been working as his no 2 - with the understanding that the post would be advertised nationally after a six-month period. This has never happened.

Since then, the charity has been struggling more and more. The management committee are friends/associates of the former and and his partner, and I don't see how they can be objective.

Lots of other stuff which all sounds highly suspect to me is happening, while DH who works v hard and generally doesn't moan, is essentially carrying the charity (his colleagues have said this to me, not just him).

MAnagement Committee is now worried the charity will go under soon. It all sounds crazy to me, and I really think it wouldn't be happening if it were being properly managed. (FWIW, DH doesn't want to be MD himself at all, he just wants a capable and competent person to work for).

Does anyone know legally where they stand? Can he go to the Charities Commission or something? Sorry - there are a lot more details to this but I wanted to keep it as general as poss. I v much doubt anyone connected there is on MN but just in case... Thanks for any suggestions of where to take this.

TheLandWhereTheBongTreeGrows Wed 13-May-15 14:27:23

Charities Commission link: www.gov.uk/complain-about-charity

Scroll down to "Charity employees with serious complaints" and follow the link to "Whistleblowing".

PleaseComeFlying Wed 13-May-15 14:32:31

Thank you BongTrees. Do you think it sounds dodgy then? I will take a look, thanks again flowers

TheLandWhereTheBongTreeGrows Wed 13-May-15 14:53:10

If a charity, funded by public donation, is possibly about to go under then they are not managing it well and in accordance with CC guidelines. They should be either increasing their fundraising activities or cutting their costs.

It isn't "dodgy" as such, but it's poor governance by the Trustees and should be looked at. (I'm a Trustee of a charity myself and I take my duties very seriously.)

prh47bridge Wed 13-May-15 18:08:04

I agree with the previous poster. Nothing you have described is in any way illegal. The charity has appointed someone to be MD but the charity is struggling. Assuming the MD is not related to or in business with any of the trustees they have not done anything wrong. Even if they are, they are still in the clear if they have followed the correct process.

Managing a charity badly is not illegal.

TheLandWhereTheBongTreeGrows Wed 13-May-15 18:52:31

I bow at the presence on this thread of prh47bridge! smile

You are quite right that there is (almost certainly) nothing illegal going on here, but as you will know, a Charity must be able to demonstrate "good governance", and I would be concerned that this one cannot, whether through the management structure, poor decisions, poor accounting, laissez-faire among the Trustees or even non-compliance with basic CC guidelines.

OP, PM me if you wish to (no need to disclose identifying info at the first pass) and I'll see if I can help at all.

TheLandWhereTheBongTreeGrows Wed 13-May-15 18:59:41

Italic fail: laissez-faire

chairmeoh Wed 13-May-15 19:06:25

Does the charity have a public AGM?
Are there any service users who might want to challenge the management team?
Does the charity receive any statutory funding - if so they will be under quite close scrutiny.
What are the charity's reserves like?

PleaseComeFlying Wed 13-May-15 19:13:20

Thanks so much both for your thoughts. Bong Trees I will PM you later if that's ok, that would be great. It is such a sad situation, lots of people really rely on this charity, and I feel that the Trustees should never have appointed someone who had just lost her partner to a long illness.

Yes, you are both right, I see now that this is not illegal, but is certainly very poor governance (there are lots of other highly questionable decisions they have made), and the charity is really suffering.

I will pass all this onto DH, he feels reluctant to act I think, but there are now problems with staff retention, projects closing etc, essentially because of v poor management, and Trustees who are not acting in the charity's best interest.

PleaseComeFlying Wed 13-May-15 19:17:55

Hi chairmeoh

Thanks for your reply.

There is no public AGM;
Service users would probably not challenge the management, mainly due to their needs - the MD is also fairly good with service users and helping them, it is all the management stuff she seems really incapable of;
DH says they do receive some funding from local councils but this is not-statutory, and this is not scrutinised particularly closely;
The reserves are now in a shocking state, he says confused

It is worrying.

chairmeoh Wed 13-May-15 19:31:14

I have worked at a charity that faced a similar situation.
What helped us (the staff) was that a founding member of the charity wad no longer active on the board but remained very interested. One senior and well respected member of staff met up with the founder for an 'off the record' chat to bring the situation to his attention. That founder then started digging around and asking pertinent questions of the board.
The board, slowly, faced their responsibilities and started taking steps to turn the charity around.
It was painful, and difficult. But after a very tricky few years that charity is starting to see brighter times.

Petallic Wed 13-May-15 19:39:56

if the management committee is concerned the charity may not be viable for much longer, could this be used as leverage to bring about the change needed?

I once worked for a charity with some less than useless directors/trustees (think community big wigs with little specialist skills & just wanting to further their cv and not contribute). Annually they had to sign a declaration that said they believed the organisation was financially viable enough to continue for another year. When this was due for signing again and the charity was struggling (both financially & leadership) We used the threat of this form signing to bring in some significant changes and lose some of the deadwood on the board (lots of talking up the threat of fines etc if they signed when they thought we might go under etc) But it all happened towards our year end period so might be the wrong time of year to be any use to you at the moment.

Can the local authority be encouraged to come & sit on the board (which is also what we did - they provided a volunteer treasurer which was a great help with some of our issues). There are charitable organisations that provide leadership/management training/support if you think they could be persuaded to use it.

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