Vol 9 • Issue 3 • Winter 2010
PAGE 9 BUDGET 2011
Secondly, community and voluntary organisations have been urging the Government to regulate charities for many years now, arguing that charities have nothing to fear from regulation and much to gain. Benefits will include clarification of the duties attaching to directors and trustees; streamlining of the many authorities that regulate a charity’s work and increasing support from donors because of greater transparency by charities.
While welcoming enactment of the Charities Act 2009 - it is very important that this Government and the next Government - whatever its political hue – commences all provisions of the Charities Act as a matter of high priority. The Wheel’s members have indicated that they will need assistance and support to prepare for the regulation of charities in the areas of reporting, procedural requirements, accounts and information on the obligations of trustees. The types of support required are internet based information,
printed materials including information sheets, checklists, and very clear guides and one-to-one advice and support.
The Wheel proposes that community and voluntary organisations are provided with:
• A comprehensive transition- support strategy, with accompanying resources, to ensure that every charity in the country receives the supports required
• A regulator that adopts a culture, style and approach that is supportive of charities avoiding taking an overly legalistic, bureaucratic position in relation to regulation and should seek to work with appropriate partners in the sector
Thirdly, the State provides supports for private firms in the areas of research and development, training and organisational development amongst many others: think of the programmes operated by the IDA, Enterprise Ireland and the County Enterprise Boards, or training programmes tailored for business, such as Skillnets.
These supports have contributed in no small way to enabling Irish business to compete internationally and will play an important part in contributing to the rebuilding of the Irish economy. There is a need to provide a similar, integrated, nationwide support infrastructure to enable social enterprises
in the voluntary sector to strengthen Irish society and make Ireland a better place to live in.
The support-infrastructure should provide training, advice, and supports in the areas of board development, governance, leadership, general management and financial management. It should address needs associated with a host of issues that are unique to the sector such as working with the Charities regulator (when it is in place!) and fundraising, amongst many others.
Finally, if the community and voluntary sector is to rise to the challenge of performing these key roles, then the quality of partnership-working between the sector and the state requires transformation. Developing a culture of effective partnership working will result in the shared understandings that are necessary to guide the expectations of voluntary- organisations and state bodies when they are designing and delivering the required services.
Where to start? Developing and sustaining such a culture demands that we begin by again providing a coherent policy framework for the sector that, at the very least, identifies:
• the principles that should inform partnership-
working between the sector and the State;
• the infrastructure that will develop and monitor implementation of the policy framework;
• a clear plan to provide multi-annual funding for community and voluntary organisations that is sufficient to cover the full cost of the services they provide.
If we want to develop and support sustainable communities that underpin an equal and just Ireland, then we must support voluntary activity in a
comprehensive and coherent manner.
This will be achieved when community and voluntary organisations are funded appropriately, regulated sensitively and supported comprehensively.
Ivan Cooper is Director of Advocacy with The Wheel. See www.wheel.ie
for an analysis of Budget 2011 and its impact on the community and voluntary sector.
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