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Responsible record keeping for the voluntary sector: new funding announcement!

As part of the work of the British Academy Research Project ‘Digitising the Mixed Economy of Welfare in Britain’ we have championed the rich cultural heritage held in voluntary sector archives. However, doing this work made us aware that there is much work to be done with organisations which do not want to, or perhaps cannot undertake these kind of projects. Their archives are important too, as Project Director Georgina Brewis explained in a blog for NCVO.

There is an urgent need to use voluntary sector archives and records to support good governance and risk management. Against the backdrop of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, the failure of high profile charities (e.g. Kids Company in 2015) and the introduction of a new Fundraising Regulator in 2016, there is a growing urgency for voluntary organisations to put in place more robust archiving and records management policies.

There are three main reasons why voluntary organisations need to undertake responsible record keeping as part of their current work:

  • to meet legal and regulatory requirements;
  • to protect the reputation of the voluntary sector;
  • to safeguard organisations from the risk of fraud.

Existing guidance is piecemeal and the voluntary sector is subject to a range of regulatory pressures from different areas, including the Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) governing accountancy, Data Protection, Freedom of Information and the Charity Commission. With the current consultation on the information collected in the Charity Commission Annual Return, which runs until early March 2017, now is a good time to think about the data held in voluntary organisations.

We are delighted to announce a new partnership to address these issues between the British Academy Research Project ‘Digitising the Mixed Economy of Welfare in Britain’ based at UCL Institute of Education and Charity Finance Group (CFG). This partnership, supported by funding from a UCL Public Policy Engagement Grant will allow researchers at UCL to work with CFG to launch new guidance aimed at helping voluntary organisations to fulfil their obligations and manage risks via best practice in archives and records management.

Heather McLoughlin, Policy and Public Affairs Officer at CFG, says:

“CFG is excited to be working on such an important piece of research. Responsible record and archive keeping is a vital tool for charities who are striving for good governance. By looking after their records a charity is better placed to measure their impact, reduce the risk of fraud and understand their charitable aims. We look forward to working on guidance, with our partners at UCL, to support charities to do this important work.”

We are excited to be able to draw additional expertise from UCL into the partnership by consulting with UCL Department of Information Studies and the Special Collections and Archives team at UCL.

We are actively seeking to make contact with people who would like to be involved in this project, either because they have particular expertise to offer, or because they would like to participate in focus groups to look at the draft guidance in in Spring 2017. For more information contact Charlotte Clements: c.clements@ucl.ac.uk

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