The Charity Sector in NI: The Importance of Regulation, Accountability and Trust

Prof Ciaran Connolly, Prof Noel Hyndman and Dr Mariannunziata Liguori (QUB) –

The charity sector is significant socially and economically, with the activities of charities being pervasive, increasingly in the joint provision of government services. They exist in most societies and are facilitated through various administrative frameworks and major tax concessions. The sector in the United Kingdom is vast and growing (200,000 registered charities, 6,000 plus in Northern Ireland – NI; total annual income £80 billion). Recent scandals of various hues have undermined trust in charities. Albeit these scandals are isolated, their impact is massive in terms of the sector.  The strength of the charity sector comes from the value society places on the social capital that it generates. A key argument is that good regulation underpins good accountability, good accountability supports the building of trust, and trust is essential to ensure the continuing health of the sector (including its ability to access funding). While charity regulators have been operating elsewhere in the UK for some time, a NI regulator (Charity Commission for Northern Ireland – CCNI) was only established in 2009. Its objectives are to ensure that charities in NI are meeting their legal requirements, and to work with charity trustees to put things right if they go wrong.

Drawing on this recent research, to be published in a forthcoming book in 2017, this presentation explores the importance of regulation and good accountability processes. It examines how trust can be built through appropriate accountability mechanisms.

Given the relatively recent establishment of CCNI, and the ongoing outworking of its role, examination of these issues is vital to supporting the health and growth of the charity sector, and to formulating policy in this area. 

This seminar took place on 06 December 2017

Briefing Paper