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Charity Commission will be ‘beholden to no-one’ says Chair at five-year strategy launch

Melanie May | 26 February 2024 | News

Orlando Fraser

The independence of the Charity Commission was reaffirmed this morning, as Chair Orlando Fraser set out its new five-year strategy.

In his speech setting out its key priorities, Fraser said that he would not allow the Commission to be “misused or weaponised by any army” involved in fighting “culture wars”.

The five-year strategy sets out the Charity Commission’s core purpose and strategic priorities for 2024-2029, and its ambition to be fair, balanced, and independent.


Why your supporters are wealthier than you think... Course by Catherine Miles. Background photo of two sides of a terraced street of houses.

It says financial resilience will be a central issue in the coming five years, and also anticipates the potential opportunities and risks that rapidly changing technology will bring. It notes too the shifting and ‘in some cases fracturing’ social norms, which will also present opportunities and challenges for the future relationship between charities and the public.

The Commission’s key priorities for the next five years are:

  1. To be fair and proportionate in its work, and clear about its role
  2. To support charities to get it right, while taking robust action where it sees wrongdoing and harm
  3. To speak with authority and credibility, free from the influence of others
  4. To embrace technological innovation and strengthen its use of data
  5. To be an expert Commission where its people are empowered and enabled to deliver excellence in regulation

Speaking on remaining free from the influence of others, Fraser said:

“We are emphasising our independence so strongly in this strategy, not because this is a new idea, or at particular risk, but because we believe this principle will be increasingly important in the years ahead.


“We live in a more and more atomised society, with fewer universally shared values and norms than in past decades, and certainly less trust in institutions.


“Charities can bring us together powerfully – we saw that during the pandemic, we’ve seen it in response to the war in Ukraine – charities have huge unifying potential.


“But they can be caught up in fierce public battles for the soul of our nation. These debates help to highlight the crucial work of charities. But there are risks involved, when charities find themselves at the biting edge of what we have come to know as the culture wars.


“I will not allow the Commission to be misused or weaponised by any army involved in fighting these wars. Whether it be led by powerful interests in politics, the media, or indeed the sector itself.


“We will march consistently, and confidently, to the beat of another drum, namely the law.”

Fraser also acknowledged that the environment the Commission is launching the strategy into was “challenging”, and that in response it will work to meet its objectives “in a way that responds to the external environment, mindful that regulation is not an end in itself, but a means to promote public trust”, and that it can be mindful of the uncertainty the sector faces, in allowing for flexibility.