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The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
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More than 2000 NI charities have not accessed their online record in a year

Four-in-ten registered Northern Ireland charities are at risk of possible regulatory action after failing to keep their details up-to-date with the charity regulator.

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has warned that only 62% of registered charities have accessed their online record on the register of charities in the past 11 months – a figure which the Commission finds “suspiciously low”.

This means that up to 18,000 charity trustees representing 2,124 charities may miss important messages and calls-to-action from the regulator. They may also be failing in their duties to be transparent and provide accurate information to inform the public about their work.

A Commission report published in March outlined how failure to update details has led to one charity failing to submit its annual financial accounts and going into default and another having a concern submitted about its management. While formal guidance has been considered appropriate on these occasions, the Commission does have the power to issue orders and take further legal action if matters are more serious.

When a charity registers with the Commission it is provided with an online account which it can access via a username and password to make necessary changes. Keeping the register up-to-date is a legal requirement, but it also helps ensure that the charity receives reminders of reporting deadlines.

Chief Charity Commissioner, Tom McGrath, said: “It’s important that charity trustees remember that charity registration is not the end of the process. The responsibilities of charity trustees to the Commission go far beyond that.

“A figure of just 62% of charities accessing their online account in the past year is suspiciously low, yet the consequences for a charity that is uncontactable are potentially very serious.

“We would urge every charity that has not accessed its online record to do so as soon as possible, check whether the information is correct and make any necessary changes”.