The Charities Regulatory Authority: What to Expect

Una Ni Dhubhghaill, Chief Executive Designate of the Charities Regulatory Authority, outlines the priority actions for the Authority as it commences operations.

With the establishment of the Charities Regulatory Authority we will, for the first time in Ireland, have a dedicated, statutory regulator for charities. This is a fundamental change for the sector and I want to take this opportunity to explain what, at least initially, it is likely to involve.

There are many responsibilities and powers set out for the new Authority in the Act. We will be introducing these on a phased basis as our resources permit.

Our first priority is the formal establishment of the Authority later in the year and there are several important milestones we will have to pass to get there. These include the appointment of the Board; the making of the Statutory Orders needed to establish the Authority in law; the completion of the arrangements to transfer the functions of the Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Bequests; and setting up an office and website for the Authority. I will be working with my team over coming months to get everything in place.

Our other main priority at the moment is developing the new Register of Charities, which will be a critical part of the new regulatory system. The Charities Act allows the approximately 8,000 charities that are already registered with the Revenue Commissioners for charitable tax exemption to be automatically placed on this Register. Once we have developed our registration system, we will be asking these charities to verify their data to ensure that we have the information we need to complete their automatic registration. When this process is complete, we hope to be able to publish the initial Register of Charities.

Once the Register is in place, the various obligations that flow from registration will start to take effect. All registered charities will have to make an annual activity report to the Authority. These reports have the potential to become a valuable mechanism for charities to demonstrate their effectiveness, accountability and transparency to their donor and beneficiary communities. We want to be sure that the reports fulfil that potential and so we plan to work with charities and other stakeholders to develop the right format and content.

We also want to build on the important conversation that is already taking place about what accounting standards the new Authority might mandate. Many individuals and organisations within the sector have already contributed ideas by way of our consultation last year on the implementation of the Act and I want to thank them for their helpful contributions thus far.

With the initial Register in place, we will move on to design a process to reach out and register those charities not automatically registered through their charitable tax status. And we will work to develop programmes to deliver our other statutory functions under the Act.

So, what will this mean for charities over coming months? Around Easter, the Minister for Justice and Equality plans to make appointments to the Board of the new Authority. That Board will then begin to oversee the initial work described above. Charities registered with Revenue can expect to be contacted by the Authority later in the year to verify their registration data in advance of its publication in the Register. We will also seek input from the sector on reporting formats and templates.

This will be a learning process, not only for my team and me, but also for all the charities that will come under the remit of the new Authority. Both in meeting the challenges and taking the opportunities that lie ahead, I am looking forward to working with the charity sector itself, which has long supported the objectives of the Charities Act.

This piece was originally written for the Spring edition 2014 of Be The Change magazine.

The Charities Regulatory Authority (CRA) is Ireland's national statutory regulatory agency for charitable organisations. The CRA was established on the 16 October 2014 under the terms of the Charities Act 2009. It is an independent agency of the Department of Justice and Equality.

Contact details:
Charities Regulatory Authority,
51 St. Stephen's Green,
Dublin 2.
Telephone: 01-633 1500

Visit the Charities Regulatory Authority website for more:

Written on 7 Nov, 2014

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