Annual reporting deadline reminder for charities

Charities with an annual reporting deadline of 31 October 2022 have less than two weeks to submit their annual return to the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.

Registered charities, which have financial years ending 31 December 2021 and were registered after May 2019, must submit their annual reporting information to the regulator by the end of October - no later than 10 months after the end of their financial year.

However, in preparing to submit, the Commission is advising charities to review recent changes to the annual monitoring form to ensure they have the right information to hand so they can submit by their deadline.

Rossa Keown, Head of Compliance and Enquiries at the Commission, explained: “There are six new question areas in the annual return form, but not all questions apply to all charities. The return is streamlined by income, with smaller charities required to complete fewer questions than larger charities.

“All charities must now provide contact details for the trustees including their individual email address and mobile telephone number. This is a key step in the Commission’s commitment to communicate and engage better with individual charity trustees in matters relating to their charity.

The six new question areas are related to risk areas such as safeguarding, the processing of personal data and fundraising. By gathering this vital information each year, the Commission is proactively working to monitor and increase transparency around these risks, contributing to public confidence in the charity sector.

As anyone completing a return on a charity’s behalf must collate this information to answer the new questions, the Commission would encourage the charity to take some additional time this year to prepare.

It’s not unusual for charity trustees to delegate the task of filing the return to a single trustee, another person within the charity or to someone external to the charity,” continued Rossa.

However, it’s important that all trustees are aware of the information requirements within the return, are satisfied with the information provided on their behalf and have good oversight that the return is competed and submitted on time.

“As a matter of good practice, the Commission would also encourage anyone completing the return to save a copy of the completed form and circulate this amongst the charity trustees for approval before it is submitted,” he concluded.

The Commission has produced new guidance on the annual monitoring return. This is a practical guide that sets out what you need to have to hand before commencing the return, and only takes about 10 minutes to read. ‘ARR05 How to complete the Annual Monitoring Return – 10 minute guide’ can be found on the Commission’s website here.

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