Baroness Stowell is about to sign off as Chair of the Charity Commission after an eventful three years at the helm. She’s taken the opportunity of her last speech in this role to re-affirm her key messages, as well as to trail likely greater intervention by the Commission in respect of errant charities.

She has reminded us that her role hasn’t been to plead the case for charities to the public, but to make sure a broad range of voices from the public has been taken seriously by charities.

Her mission has been to increase public trust and confidence in charities and her message has been for them to live their values – “to be driven by their purposes in the way they go about their business, not just in the difference they make.”

In a nod towards the Covid-19 Mutual Aid and other community groups that sprang up around the country during the early stages of the pandemic, she makes the point that charities themselves aren’t the only outlet for people who want to be charitable and that the sector needs to embrace a new generation of organisations with their own ideas for strengthening their communities and wider society.

It is rare for existing charities to be removed from the register of charities but perhaps we will see more of this in future, to reinforce the privileged status (and benefits) afforded by charitable registration.  There is parting reference to the Commission seeking more power and greater freedom to remove “moribund” charities or those involved in “wrongdoing” from the register.

A case of “watch this space…”