The Charities Act 2022 is upon us, with its provisions coming into effect on a rolling programme which started last Autumn and is expected to be complete in Autumn this year.

Some of the key points likely to affect small charities include:

  • Paying Trustees in certain circumstances for goods provided. This was a widening of the existing provision whereby Trustees could be paid the supply of services
  • Charities will be able to amend their governing documents or Royal Charters more easily than is possible at present
  • The Commission will have a new power to make an order to ratify the election or appointment of a trustee where uncertainty exists as to the validity of such an appointment
  • There will be more straightforward rules in the area of land disposal
  • Fundraising and cy-près powers will be changed. This will enable charities to use funds raised from a failed appeal for a similar charitable purpose rather than returning the donations. This provision is subject to: the donations being £120 or less; the charity incurring unreasonable expense in returning the donations; where it is deemed unreasonable for donors to expect the return of their donations; or where donors cannot be found or identified.

This last-mentioned provision is interesting in that it changes legislation but not, in our view, the moral requirement to offer a donor their gift back if the purpose for which it was given cannot proceed; or the charity’s circumstances change and the appeal/project is no longer relevant. Bearing in mind the minuscule cost of a telephone call or e-mail, offering a donor options – including, but not restricted to, returning their gift – is hardly a burden. Minerva’s experience over more than 25 years is that donors rarely object to a change of use – but they really appreciate being consulted, and are therefore more likely to continue supporting the charity in the future.