I am on a church committee that regularly approves sums of money to be donated to charities. Other than making freedom-of-information requests to discover how charities use the money given (e.g. do they pay their top employees high salaries?), how do PCCs decide which charities to give to, and how much to give?
The questioner and his or her PCC should be aware that by donating money to charities they may be in murky waters.
The best route to follow is through the Charity Commission’s website — although it can involve much painstaking work. Knowing the registration number of the charity concerned does enable some short cuts to annual accounts, etc. But there are thousands of small charities whose annual income falls below the level at which they are required to register with the Commission, but they still have to produce annual accounts and follow national government rules. Details of the regulations are frequently available in public libraries or Citizens Advice. There are several books on the subject.
There are, however, also numerous organisations that describe their activities as “charitable”. This is an elastic term and needs proper investigation, initially to find out how and why their activity is described. For example, offering someone a bed for the night could be described as charitable even if payment is involved. Some organisations work under the banner of “not for profit” and use only volunteers for their work. They must produce accounts and obtain agreement with their local office of the Inland Revenue. They cannot, like a charity, benefit from VAT exemption.
The whole business can be extremely tiresome and protracted, particularly if the “charity” is bogus or the director and trustees are opaque. It may boil down to much direct questioning, involving written answers, and include the recent accounts and checks on exactly who is the beneficiary and by how much. Hesitation to produce answers is suspect, but the Charity Commission is generally helpful when approached, and conscious of the multiple levels of fraud. Don’t be put off by percentages: insist on precise details before any PCC gives anything to anyone, including “dog collars”. Good luck!
(Miss) Primrose Peacock (Director
of Friends of Albania, 1991-2012)
The collect for the 19th Sunday after Trinity (1662) states: “O God, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee . . .”. Is this just a statement of the obvious, or is there some deeper theological meaning?
As simple as that — although Cranmer and his 17th-century improvers managed to embroider it a bit (the eighth-century Latin original is innocent of “forasmuch”, “Holy Spirit”, and “rule”). Reimagine it as a confession: “Entwine your mercy around the work of our hearts, O Lord; else you will find no delight in them.”
(The Revd) Peter Mullins, Haworth
St Augustine of Hippo, unlike Pelagius, would say that we were so deeply in the grip of sin that we could do no good without divine help. Better to remember the first commandment to love God, who loves everyone, with all we have and are. If we are in such a loving relationship with God, our human relationships will not be skewed by self-regard.
(Canon) John Goodchild
The patronage of our benefice is vested in trustees. The power of appointing new trustees is held by the PCC whose normal practice has been to appoint up to seven of its long-serving members. Effectively the PCC is the trustee. As “a body corporate with perpetual succession”, can the PCC appoint itself as a trustee, thus avoiding the need in future for a new deed of appointment (with consequent fees to the diocesan registrar’s solicitors) each time a trustee dies or resigns and has to be replaced?
Address for answers and more questions: Out of the Question, Church Times, 3rd floor, Invicta House, 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG.