CCAPM: Five questions for foundations

Last week ACF attended the Charity Commission for England and Wales’ annual public meeting (CCAPM), where the executive board reviewed their work in 2016 and looked ahead to what 2017 holds for the charity sector. Following the meeting, here are five questions for foundations to consider:

1. Would you be willing to pay for the regulator?

It’s been anticipated for a long time, but William Shawcross has confirmed that there will shortly be a consultation on charging charities for the regulator.

The Commission argues that requiring charities to cover some of its costs is the only way to fill the void left by reduced government funding. The Commission has had its budget frozen until 2020 at £20.3 million, a real terms cut of 50% since the 2007/8 budget. According to the Commission, the only way it can be an enabling regulator is by sourcing the extra funds from the charities it regulates.

ACF will be responding to the consultation and we are seeking input from our members. If you would like to share your thoughts on the issue, contact

2. Are you ready to go digital?

The Commission is driving forward its ‘digital by default’ agenda into 2017 by taking more of its services online. In April, charities will be able to change their name or change their governing document through an online procedure, and at some point this year a charity services portal will go live, collating all the Commission’s services into one dashboard.

Other online resources include more webinars, more live-streamed events, and perhaps more ‘self-service’ guidance.

However don’t be put off if you aren’t yet up to speed with the Commission’s online services – the telephone lines will be “transformed”…

3. What does the Prime Minister’s emphasis on mental health mean for you?

This year’s keynote speaker was Prime Minister Theresa May, who used the platform to announce her plans to tackle mental health problems. Many of our members who fund in this area will welcome the spotlight on an often neglected health concern. However the details of May’s policy on mental health are not yet clear.

Nonetheless, foundations may take note of the direction outlined in May’s speech. Most obviously, further funding for mental health services may affect the current funding ecosystem in that area. The effects may also spill over into other health services, given the interconnectedness of many health problems.

Less obviously, any measures to integrate mental health plans into the workplace environment will impact on any trusts and foundations with employed staff.

Of course, the answers to these questions will depend entirely on foundations’ unique circumstances. But it is certainly not just a question for those funding mental health services.

4. How will you prepare for new data protection regulation?

The UK’s exit from the European Union will not affect the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation – an EU framework due to apply from May 2018.

We are currently unaware of what, if any, implications this change will have for foundations, but will monitor any information relevant to funders' data protection and consent procedures and inform members accordingly. 

The Commission announced an ‘educational event’ taking place in Manchester in February – an event which they hope to stream online. For more information on what it means for charities more generally, see the Information Commissioner’s Office webpage.

5. How can you make the most of the Commission’s support for trustees?

While all forms of support are generally welcome, the Commission is focusing in particular on trustees. This forms part of their risk-based approach, on the premise that better governance and more capable trustees reduce the risk of non-compliance.

To get to know their audience, the Commission said that there will be a report by Cass Business School and the Cranfield Trust into 19,000 trustees to find out who they are and how aware they are of their obligations. Trustees can also expect further guidance, both in digital form and in person as the Commission intends to speak at more events.


ACF will continue to monitor the implications these questions have on members throughout the year, and keep members informed of any developments.


Emma Hutchins
Policy and Communications Officer

We support UK foundations and grant-making charities