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The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
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Double check your annual reporting documents, warns charity regulator

Charity bank statements, instructions on how to play Bridge and a grant application are just some of the unexpected information submitted to Northern Ireland’s charity regulator under the annual reporting programme.

“All registered charities must submit annual accounts and reports to the Commission,” explained Myles McKeown, Head of Enquiries & Compliance at the regulator, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.

“This information, once submitted, is automatically published to the register of charities, supporting the openness and transparency of the charity sector,” he continued.

“However, we have found some instances where the wrong documents have been uploaded, or additional information has been included with the accounts and reports by mistake. For example, we have received bank statements, email exchanges and even letters,” said Mr McKeown

While a set of instructions on playing Bridge was one of the more unusual submissions, the Commission has warned that uploading the wrong information could have serious consequences, particularly where the data includes personal details.

“The publication of a harmless note or instructions may do nothing more than embarrass the charity, but there is a potentially more serious concern, where the information includes personal data such as individuals’ names, addresses and dates of birth,” Mr McKeown advised.

“Information submitted under annual reporting is automatically published to the register of charities – once you hit submit, that information is what will go live to the public.

“It is the charity’s responsibility to check all information before submission and we would also strongly encourage a double check on the information once published, as an additional assurance.

“Beneficiaries, trustees, staff, volunteers, donors and others need to be able to trust a charity with their information. Uploading incorrect documents, including personal data, can not only reflect poorly on the charity but may lead to repercussions from the Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO).”

To check your annual reporting submission, go to your charity’s page on the register of charities, select the Documents tab and you may then open and view each of the files submitted – charity accounts, independent examiner’s report and the trustee annual report.

If you have submitted inappropriate information as part your charity’s annual reporting, please contact the Commission as soon as possible on monitoring@charitycommissionni.org.uk so the issue can be rectified.

Once the Commission becomes aware inappropriate material has been submitted, and therefore published, it will endeavour to remove the material as quickly as possible. The charity will also be notified and advised of the requirement to submit the correct information as soon as possible.

ENDS

For more information please contact Shirley Kernan, Charity Commission Communications Officer, on telephone: 028 3832 0169, mobile: 07827338978 or email: shirley.kernan@charitycommissionni.org.uk 

Notes to editors

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland is the independent regulator of charities in Northern Ireland established under the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008. 

For more information on annual reporting please click here.