What if I have to cancel my AGM or other key events/meetings?
The Coronavirus is likely to have an impact on a number of events over the next wee while. This might include the holding of your AGM. This might make it difficult for you to finalise your annual reports and accounts.
Wherever possible, we would ask you to try to get these to us on time, All you need to do is log on as usual and scan us your reports and accounts. However, we understand that it might be difficult for some and we will take an understanding and proportionate approach to this.
It may be that by postponing your AGM, you are not fulfilling what it says in your governing document. However, we would be understanding and proportionate about that. We would still ask you to send as much as you can by your deadline, where possible.
While we are currently not planning to extend filing deadlines, we will continue to look at this issue and see how we can best support the sector at this difficult time.
Can we hold our important meetings virtually?
Where it isn’t going to be possible to get together face-to-face, holding meetings virtually could be a good option. Some charities have specific provisions in their governing documents to allow meetings to take place over the phone or using digital solutions. However, in the current situation, we are happy that charities hold their meetings in this way even if the governing document doesn’t say anything about this. This will allow charity trustees to have important discussions and to take decisions at this difficult time. Where you decide to take this virtual route, you should record that they have done this, thus demonstrating good governance of your charity.
What if my charity could do something to help people directly in our community, but our governing document would prevent us from doing so?
It is a great sentiment to want to do everything you can to help your communities. However, it is one of the basics of charity law to follow your governing document and make sure that your charity is working within its purposes. There are many charities who might be better placed than your own to respond in particular circumstances.
On the other hand, you may be uniquely placed to deliver a service or support to a particular community, and a temporary change to your purposes would allow you to do so. For such cases, we will put in place a process aimed at approving such changes as quickly as possible. If you feel you fall into this category, you should get in touch with us as soon as you think you want to make some changes.
What if the current situation has a negative impact on my charity? Should I be reporting it to OSCR as a notifiable event?
Our notifiable events regime was set-up in order that we might play a role in minimising the impact of serious problems and issues on charities. By hearing about serious problems at a relatively early stage, the aim was to play a more preventative and facilitative role. Notifiable events do not cover every incident, only those that may have a significant impact on your charity.
The same would apply in the current situation. We would only need to hear about something if it was likely to have a serious impact on your charity in the longer term. It might be that your significant fundraising activity for the year takes place at a time which means it has to be cancelled. This might be significant in terms of you being able to carry on with your activities and you would want to report that to us.
However, don’t worry. Reporting does not need to be at the very top of your list. Making sure you have the time and space with your fellow trustees to make the right decisions for your organisation is the main thing to be thinking about. As always, make sure you are recording the decisions you make and the reasons for them. And, if your trustees do think it is going to have a significant impact on your charity, then let us know as soon as you can.