How to refresh and review your charity’s finances and plan for the future was the theme of this year’s Charity Accountants Conference which we hosted online in partnership with the Directory of Social Change (DSC) on 21 and 22 September.
The conference was an opportunity for charity finance professionals to hear from leading experts about the latest regulation, how the new policy environment and government changes will impact their organisations, as well as the latest thinking about approaches to risk, reserve policies, what the future of the finance professional might look like and other key issues including employee wellbeing and mental health.
We were pleased to welcome back many familiar faces and meet new charity professional from charities across the UK.
We heard from fantastic speakers including The Charity Commission, Jay Kennedy, Director of Policy at DSC, Lucy Rhodes, Bates Well and Nicola Sykes from Pro Bono Economics who all delivered keynote speeches.
For those unable to attend, here are some key highlights:
Kim Andrews, Senior Technical Accountancy Data Lead at The Charity Commission shared some important updates from their business plan for 2022 focusing on data, trustees and people.
We learnt that the new consultation proposing changes to the Annual Return process has closed on 1 September. Key changes will be new questions being added Annual Returns process. This will improve the quality of data The Charity Commission collects, enabling it to better regulate charities and to give the public access to information to make more informed choices about charities. 460 people responded to the consultation and the results of the consultation will be published later this year – so watch this space.
The Commission is also involved in a Charity Classification Project to improve how charities are classified and examining ways to improve how they receive charity reports and accounts to ease the compliance burden. We had got an update on the new SORP, which is currently in the drafting phase until September 2023 and The Charities Act 2022 which will introduce its first changes this Autumn.
Another highlight was a regulatory and policy update from Jay Kennedy DSC’s Director of with a Regulatory and Policy update. Jay talked about how The Civil Society Group is helping to influence and build relationships with government, a key achievement being the inclusion of charities alongside businesses in the government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme.
He also discussed how the group is supporting consultations such as the Annual Return consultation. The new government was also mentioned but Jay highlighted it was too early days to draw any conclusions as to whether they will benefit the sector and the future remains very uncertain.
Other highlights include a session from Lucy Rhodes from BWB about the updated Charities Act 2022, tips and advice from DSC’s Debra Allcock-Tyler on how to engage trustees with finance and a fantastic closing session from Nicola Sykes at Pro Bono Economics on what charities should anticipate on the horizon given the current social, economic and political environment.
We also had two interesting panel discussions: The Finance Function and Digital Space, and Building a Sustainable Charity, with panellists including Oliver Deacon, Executive Coaching for Finance Leaders and Ex-Microsoft FD; Zoe Amar, Digital; Michael Dent, WWF-UK; Dr Halima Begum, CEO Runnymede Trust and Sarah Hughes, CEO, Centre for Mental Health.
There are also four breakout sessions per day with speakers from Sayer Vincent and DSC covering many topics including the role of wellbeing, mental health and managing stress, managing staff remotely, resilience, charity reserves and leadership.
We hope our conference this year encouraged charities to refresh and review vital areas and gave them insights and support to plan for what lies ahead over the coming months and years.
We will be sharing more content from the conference in the coming weeks and recordings of Opening and Closing keynote talks are now available to all delegates online at DSC’s resource hub.