Charities that do not prioritise good governance pose a serious threat to the viability of their sector overall. That’s according to Diarmaid Ó Corrbuí, CEO of the Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups.
Speaking earlier this week at the launch of a new Governance Code eLearning resource, Mr. Ó Corrbuí said recent scandals within individual charities and non-profit organisations have weakened public trust in the sector, with knock-on implications for society’s most vulnerable groups.
“When it emerges that one charity has engaged in unethical or illegal practices, the entire sector suffers as a result,” he said. “If the public don’t have faith in how charities govern themselves and spend the funding they receive, they will simply cease to support them.
“That’s why the Governance Code and a strong regulatory framework are so important for the charity sector in Sligo. We need clear structures that ensure transparency and accountability, so that any member of the public who donates to a charity can feel confident their money is being spent appropriately, ethically and to the best possible effect.
“All charities are set up to solve a social challenge and, quite often, to support extremely vulnerable groups. If rogue organisations destroy public confidence in the sector overall, it is the most vulnerable people in society who lose out.”
Impact of the Governance Code to Date
The Governance Code was developed between 2010 and 2012 by a group of individuals from a range of national organisations including the Carmichael Centre. It is a free, voluntary code provided to all boards, committees and executives of not-for-profit groups to encourage them to check themselves against best practice in the management of their affairs.
Currently, 391 non-profits in Ireland are compliant with the Governance Code and 1,087 organisations have committed to adopting the Code.
The Charities Regulator, Ireland's national statutory regulator for charitable organisations, was established in October 2014 to establish and maintain a public register of charitable organisations operating in Ireland and ensure their compliance with the Charities Acts.
Commenting at today’s launch, Mr. Ó Corrbuí, said: “In recent years, a number of policies and frameworks have been introduced to ensure charities in Ireland are compliant with their legal requirements and are striving to achieve best practice in managing their affairs.
“The Carmichael Centre is committed to working with charities to enable them to sign up to the Governance Code and comply with charities legislation. As such, we’ve launched a new resource available to all charities, the Governance Code eLearning Resource. This online resource provides charities and voluntary organisations with the tools they need to achieve a best-practice governance benchmark.
“Compliance with the Governance Code demonstrates an organisation’s commitment to the highest possible standards of good governance. Structured as a practical and instructive eLearning course, our new Governance Code resource provides organisations with a step-by-step approach to implementing the Code.”
Launching the new eLearning resource was Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, who said: “I’m delighted to launch such a useful resource for charities and voluntary and community organisations.
“The important role that support organisations such as the Carmichael Centre can play in demonstrating leadership and showcasing best practice in the charity sector is to be applauded. The Carmichael Centre’s work on promoting best practice in governance in charities will greatly benefit the charity sector as a whole and, subsequently, wider society.”