Charities “need to be more business-like” according to the CEO of the newly founded Charities Institute Ireland (CII).
CII was formed in November as a merger between Fundraising Ireland and Irish Charities Tax Reform (ICTR).
Lucy Masterson, CEO of CII, said “I started in the industry only recently and when I first got involved everyone in the industry was saying that they needed a unified voice to act on behalf of the charities”.
In light of recent controversies concerning charities such as GOAL and Console, Ms Masterson said the group will be there to “raise standards in the industry” on transparency, openness and integrity.
“The industry is facing new realities of continuous scrutiny from the public and elsewhere and there needs to be a unified response to that reality,” she said.
Ms Masterson said they differ from the statutory body Charities Regulatory Authority as “they will be acting to support the charities whereas the Regulator is there to enforce the law”.
“We will be providing training courses for our members such as the Certificate in Best Practice which has been designed for all staff members in each charity.
“Membership will provide organisations with all the tools for transparency to start restoring the belief and value in our sector”, she said.
Ms Masterson said they will be focusing on the charities that are responsible for 90pc of the entire industry.
“If we put our focus on the major players in the industry we feel that it will spread high standards from the top down all across the industry and benefit the entire sector”, she said.
The CII held its first conference on Thursday entitled ‘The Naked Truth, Trust & Transparency, the Leadership Challenge’.
One of the main areas of focus at the event was data protection and the upcoming EU rules around data protection and their implications for charities.
Ms Masterson feels as they hold “much more personal data than an average business” and because they are under extra scrutiny, a good starting point for charities to regain trust is to adapt their processes to adhere to the new EU data protection rules.
Ms Masterson said that the charities sector “represents one of the three pillars of society”.
“Besides the public and private sectors there is us. The charities sector is fundamental to how we shape our society.
“We always ask the question of what would happen if the charities in Ireland went on strike for a day? It doesn’t bear thinking, so we want to respond to this massive social problem and raise the bar on standards”, she said.