29th June 2015
The Charity Forum opened by reflecting on why firms act in this sector. Staff enjoyment and the technical nature of the work were highlighted as the main reasons, which more than offset the poor recoveries that some firms experience. Recovery issues were attributed more to software shortcomings and account preparation issues than anything else.
We discussed the range of marketing activities undertaken by firms in this sector and were pleased to receive an email from Gill on this topic from her sickbed. These included regular bulletins to charities, attending charitable events, acting as trustees, firms adopting a charity of the year for PR or setting up their own charitable foundation, as Watson Buckle and Midgley Snelling have done. We also discussed doing seminars with other professionals in this sector such as lawyers or investment advisers, with partners highlighting this as a key specialism/service both to potential clients and to their own teams. Some firms are also putting on training for new trustees to help them understand accounts and wider trustee responsibilities if they are working with solicitors.
With over 100 charitable clients amongst the five firms in attendance, the delegates asked that a new charitable client database was set up.
We also discussed the 10 areas of concerns coming out of a recent survey in this sector. These were:
- auto enrolment
- conflicts of interest
- gift aid
- internal processes
- levels of reserve
- risk management
- trading subsidiaries
Whilst those present had different experiences with different clients on these points, one very useful suggestion from Sarah Wilson of HB&O was to run multiple gift aid schemes so that if one fund raising venture is not operated properly for gift aid, the whole gift aid status of the charity is not affected. Susan Sedgwick has since advised a number of her clients on this point which was very positively received.