ICSA launches charity guidelines

Charities have been told to ensure they have a comms strategy in place before progressing with merger plans.

The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) has launched new guidelines on charity mergers. The guidelines stress the importance of garnering stakeholder buy-in and being open about the process – without sacrificing confidentiality.

Trustees ‘should avoid being overly secretive’ and should adopt a ‘realistic approach to informing staff on developments’.

It suggests that change is best implemented a little at a time: ‘Any resistance is likely to be better contained by incremental change as opposed to the Big Bang approach.’

Louise Thomson, head of not-for-profit policy at ICSA, said: ‘Communicating a merger effectively is particularly important in the not-for-profit sector because staff and supporters are often emotionally attached to the causes.’

She added: ‘It is important to get staff on side. When deciding to go public with information, you need to make sure larger donors are assured that a merger will not affect the standard of the services you’re providing.’ 

The Charity Commission is expecting to set up a new register of mergers by the end of the year, which will simplify the asset-transfer process.  ICSA provides guidance on governance and regulatory issues in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.

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