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Guidance for Charity Trustees During the Ukraine Crisis

on Tuesday, 21 June 2022.

The Charity Commission has recently published a statement on the Ukraine crisis and its implications for charities.

The Charity Commission has noted that the repercussions of the Ukraine crisis will likely affect many registered charities. The Charity Commission is urging trustees to follow its guidance and stay alert to departmental advice as the situation in Ukraine continues.

Given the conflict and the international sanctions imposed, charity trustees need to be aware of the risks to their charity, and act carefully when running appeals, managing funds and donations, and safeguarding volunteers and staff working in high risk areas.

The Charity Commission has reminded trustees to refer to its guidance on running effective and impactful appeals, and on holding, moving and receiving funds safely.

Risks in the UK

In particular in relation to the current crisis, trustees should consider whether any concerns have been raised about their donors or activities, and whether it would be prudent to accept or decline a donation. Please see Charity Commission's guidance on donors. 

There is a risk of reputational damage in accepting donations from parties with corrupt or negative connotations. Whilst a generous donation is attractive, trustees should assess the risk fully as negative press can harm public trust and confidence placed in a charity, and restoring a reputation can be a very difficult and costly journey.

Given the increased risk of cyber-attacks to all organisations, appropriate training and systems should be in place to identify and manage this risk.

Risks Abroad

Charities which operate in Russia may find themselves suffering the consequences of the international sanctions that have been imposed. Not only will trustees be concerned about the safety of charitable funds but also the safety of their staff and volunteers who are working in Russia and Ukraine.

Trustees are expected to maintain high standards in relation to safeguarding and must be satisfied that their staff and volunteers are kept safe and know how to report concerns and incidents, reporting any serious incidents to the Charity Commission where appropriate. Risk management and incident handling is a key part of the safeguarding agenda and trustees should ensure that their risks remain under review.

Guidance is available from the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation and the Charity Commission is urging trustees to follow their guidance on managing risks when working internationally.

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Keeping Up to Date With the Impact of the Conflict

During this uncertain time it will be sensible for trustees to stay closely updated. Be prepared to scrutinise your donors and review the risks affecting your charity. Due diligence on donors and funders is essential. If trustees consider that their charity is being (or will be) directly affected by events in Ukraine, they should undertake a specific risk assessment.

Links to Guidance

Here is a list of the links that the Charity Commission has referred trustees to in its statement on the Ukraine crisis:

For advice in relation to any of the topics mentioned in this article, please contact Chris Knight in our Charities team on 07468 698 954, or complete the form below.

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