Charities face up to Covid difficulties – JEP article Friday 30 April 2021

By Tom Innes

Jersey charities have been praised by the Island’s charity commissioner for their ‘drive, resilience and innovatory behaviour’ during the pandemic.

In his annual report for 2020, published today, John Mills highlighted the challenges faced by the charitable sector as a result of Covid-19.

Mr Mills said he had been pleased to observe how many of the 421 charities registered in Jersey by the end of 2020 had weathered the storm.

‘Undaunted by odds, many Jersey charities did a lot of good things to help and support citizens in abnormal times and showed good drive, resilience and innovatory behaviour in so doing when much normal fundraising activity had had to be put on hold,’ he said.

The commissioner said his office had sought to help charities by relaxing reporting deadlines and sanctioning new methods of holding annual meetings. He noted that some charities had ‘failed to last the course’ and were seeking deregistration, but added that not all the challenges were related to the pandemic.

‘To a very large extent, the charity sector is one of microbusinesses,’ he said.  ‘If times are tough for the economy, then resilience becomes an issue.

‘If you look at the 400-odd registered charities, some are pretty well-organised with reserves and strategies and risk-management arrangements, but others may be less resilient.

‘There are also some organisations which overlap – competition is healthy, but is that the right way forward, especially if taxpayers’ money is involved in funding some of them,’ added Mr Mills.

The commissioner said he expected the full impact of the pandemic would continue to become apparent during 2021. Registered charities have a total of just over £600 million in assets, with annual spending of around £125m. Mr Mills said he would like to see greater recognition for the part played by the charity sector in the Island’s economy. During 2020, 121 charities were registered.

To read the full Annual Report 2020, please click here.