The Charity Commission for England and Wales is reminding charities with a January deadline to submit their accounts and annual returns on time. In addition it is encouraging them to file online before 31 January.
Up to date reports and accounts are a legal requirement but, since they are published online, they can help charities demonstrate transparency and efficiency to donors and fundraisers and prospective supporters. A red flag for late filing on a charity’s online record could put off potential and existing supporters.
Who has to file this month?
All charities have ten months from the end of their financial year in which to submit their annual documents. This month is the deadline for the 54,000 charities which have a financial year end of 31 March.
The Charity Commission recommends online filing because it is the quickest and easiest way to submit accounts. In addition, it enables a charity’s profile on the publicly-searchable Register of Charities to be updated overnight.
The process takes about 20 minutes and the Commission has published a video tutorial to explain the process.
Charities can also now authorise their accountant or other advisor to submit accounts on the trustees’ behalf.
If you don’t file
It is a criminal offence not to submit annual documents when required by the Commission. Charities who fail to file their documents for two or more years face a statutory inquiry by the Commission.
Neville Brownlee, Chief Operating Officer at the Commission said:
“There is no excuse for charities to be late when they have 10 months to prepare and are reminded at regular intervals by us. It’s a good idea to file when you’re ready, rather than leave it until the last minute.
“Those charities that do file late are letting down the majority of those who file on time and take full financial accountability towards the public, donors and their supporters. It’s a shame that the minority risk their reputations and let down the many who follow their legal duties and responsibilities with care, at a critical time when the public expects full transparency on how charities spend their money. We know [from Ipsos Mori research in June 2014] that 96 per cent of people say it is important to them that charities provide the public with information about how they spend their money, and that’s the bottom line”.
Twitter Q&A on filing
The Charity Commission is hosting a Twitter Q&A session on 26 January from 2-3pm which will address questions about the annual information charities must submit, and help users who are having problems.
You can tweet your questions in advance or on the day to @ChtyCommission, using #fileontime.
• How to find which charities have filed late with the Charity Commission