This article was first published in the Western Morning News Annual Business Guide Amongst all of those involved, there is little doubt that the last few…
Accountancy firm PKF Francis Clark has joined forces with charities and regulators to combat fraud targeted against charities, as part of the third Annual Charity Fraud Awareness Week (23 – 27 October 2018) #CharityFraudOut.
Fraud is the most reported crime in the UK. According to the Office for National Statistics, an individual in the UK is 10 times more likely to be a victim of fraud than theft. The charity sector is no different. Charities face the same fraud risks as any other sector and fraud can occur at any point in the financial flow, from when the donation is made right through to the money being used to deliver services, supplies or grants.
Charity Fraud Awareness Week aims to help charities limit their fraud risks and ensure that charity trustees, staff and volunteers, as well as their donors and supporters, can recognise the warning signs and share good counter-fraud practices.
Charities are particularly vulnerable to frauds of diversion such as skimming, extraction (false invoicing) and back-handers (bribes for grants). Criminals are increasingly turning to the internet to steal information and commit fraud. Every charity with some form of online presence, their website or social media, Facebook or Twitter etc. is now at risk of cyber-attack.
Trustees have a legal duty and responsibility under charity law to protect the funds and other property of their charity so that it can be applied for its intended beneficiaries. Chartered accountants and business advisers PKF Francis Clark are experts in helping achieve this by understanding the enhanced risk of fraud and the need to spend in accordance with the charitable purpose and grant conditions.
The firm employs specialist cyber security experts who can carry out information security reviews and training and vulnerability assessments, to provide charities with the reassurance they need. This dedicated team also offer formal cyber security accreditation schemes, giving organisations a comprehensive, customised service with certification to Cyber Essentials and IASME governance standards.
Duncan Leslie, Head of Not-for-Profit for the firm, said: “Fraud is a serious threat to every organisation, charities included. In fact, it is estimated to cost UK charities more than £2bn a year. With reported fraud increasing at an alarming rate it is vital for charities of all shapes and sizes to protect their income and assets by building strong defences.
“The impact of fraud on charities should not be underestimated; it can jeopardise the essential services they provide, cause reputational damage, impact fundraising and reduce morale amongst staff and volunteers.
“PKF Francis Clark acts for over 250 charities throughout the South and South West. Many of our partners and employees are charity trustees themselves so we understand from a practical angle the enhanced risk of fraud and improper spending in the sector.
“We are local experts, here to help and advise, so if you have any worries or concerns please get in touch with us.”