The Guardian recently had an article “UK charity failed to safeguard aid worker killed in Syria – report“.   The article deals with Alan Henning, a UK  volunteer who went to Syria and was captured and beheaded by ISIS.

Here is the recently released Charity Inquiry Report from the Charity Commission of England and Wales dealing with the charity.   It discusses many items including risk of having volunteers in war zones, problems with inadequate internal controls, lack of due diligence, duties of trustees/directors of charities, poor governance practices, and how inappropriate behaviour can undermine public trust in charities.  While it has some interesting pieces for many charities, I would argue that any Canadian charity that uses volunteers outside of Canada should be aware of the report and consider whether their systems are adequate for the situation they are facing.

An interesting quote:


The inquiry established that the trustees had delegated all responsibility for volunteer recruitment and partnership working to a single convoy leader and volunteer A. The inquiry saw no substantive evidence of any control or oversight of these two persons by the trustees. ….

Furthermore, the inquiry established that the trustees were unaware of some of the systems and processes in place for the distribution of aid in country, a significant part of which had been delegated to the convoy leader. Following the charity ending their relationship with the convoy leader, the trustees then had even less of an oversight of this and these processes. It was unclear how the trustees could be satisfied that the charity’s funds were being spent exclusively in furtherance of the charity’s objects.

The inquiry established that the trustees had engaged in partnership working with other charities and companies in Turkey and Syria. The inquiry saw no evidence of any due diligence or risk assessments having been undertaken by the trustees before, during or after those engagements. Furthermore, the inquiry established that the charity had no policies or procedures in place regarding work with external partners.

The trustees’ lack of oversight and control on these matters and lack of due diligence and risk management was mismanagement and/or misconduct in the administration of the charity.



Here is a PDF of the Charity Inquiry – Al-Fatiha Global.