1.1 The Assembly Commission has directed that the Northern Ireland Assembly adopt a Charity Policy. This policy indicates the Commission’s commitment to harness the collective efforts of the employees and the organisation itself in supporting the voluntary and community sector. It also reflects the will of Secretariat staff to demonstrate their social responsibility by supporting charitable endeavours.
2. STATEMENT OF POLICY
2.1 The Commission is committed to supporting the work of the voluntary and community sector.
- Demonstrates the Commission’s corporate social responsibility
- Harnesses the efforts of the staff and the Secretariat;
- Formalises the arrangements for the selection and engagement of a charitable organisation; and
- Sets out the guidelines and regulations for providing support, including financial support, under that corporate responsibility.
3. SCOPE OF THE POLICY
3.1 The Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 provides a definition of “charity” and “charitable purpose”.
The Charities Act lists 12 stated charitable purposes which are:
- Prevention or relief of poverty;
- Advancement of education;
- Advancement of religion;
- Advancement of health or saving lives;
- Advancement of citizenship or community development;
- Advancement of the arts, culture, heritage or science;
- Advancement of amateur sport;
- Advancement of human rights, conflict resolution or reconciliation or the promotion of religious or racial harmony or equality and diversity;
- Advancement of environmental protection or improvement;
- Relief of those in need by reason of youth, age, ill health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage;
- Advancement of animal welfare; or
- Other purposes as described in the Act.
3.2 The Northern Ireland Assembly Charity Policy supports the work of charities which provide services in Northern Ireland and employ local expertise in delivering those services.
Charities which qualify are:
- Those which provide services throughout the whole of Northern Ireland
- Those which employ local expertise
- Those who provide services under the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Equal Opportunity Policy’s equality of access provisions
- Those registered as having charitable status at HM Revenue & Customs.
3.3 The Charity Policy applies to all charitable activities undertaken by the Northern Ireland Assembly Secretariat and any fundraising activities which take place in Parliament Buildings.
4. RESPONSIBILITY AND IMPLEMENTATION
The process for selection is detailed in Annex 1.
4.1 The Clerk to the Assembly has overall responsibility for ensuring the full implementation and monitoring of the Charity policy.
4.2 The Director of Engagement has responsibility for:-
- co-ordinating the implementation and monitoring the effectiveness of the Charity policy;
- overseeing the review and development of the Assembly’s practices and procedures to ensure that they accord with the Charity policy;
- providing guidance, support and information, with assistance from the Head of Outreach and Education, about the Charity policy to Directors and Heads of Offices.
4.3 Directors and Office Managers have a specific responsibility for the strategic implementation of the Charity policy in their own Directorates.
5.1 Activities permitted by the selected charity during their year are listed in Annex 2.
5.2 The chosen charities activities are limited to their chosen year and ceases on March 31 to make way for the next charity.
5.3 All the use of the name ‘Northern Ireland Assembly’ and the Assembly logo by the chosen charity is not permitted without the express written consent of the Head of Communications.
6. MONITORING AND REVIEW
6.1 The Commission accepts that there is a need to monitor the effectiveness of Charity policy. Therefore, progress on the implementation of the policy and analysis of data will be presented by the Director of Engagement to the Commissions annually.
7.1 It must be recognised that there are more than 5,000 community and voluntary organisations doing valuable work in Northern Ireland. There can be no mechanism which ranks or prioritises this work. Once charities qualify under the broad parameters detailed in this policy, selection of the five for consideration is random. It is the fairest and most inclusive means of selecting a charity.
7.2 As a result, no correspondence can be entered into which requests additional consideration or seeks to put forward a charity for consideration. The process is very clear and cannot be deviated from.
7.3 Any other remarks or points may be addressed by writing to the Director of Information and Outreach for consideration.
Each January the Speaker will select a charitable purpose as per the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 (Annex B) and inform the Clerk/Director General of the selection.
The charitable purpose will be sent to all secretariat staff via a postmaster requesting suggestions for charities whose core work falls within the charitable purpose and meets the following criteria:
- Those which provide services throughout the whole of Northern Ireland;
- Those which employ local expertise;
- Those who provide services under the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Equal Opportunity Policy’s equality of access provisions;
- Those registered as having charitable status at HM Revenue & Customs.
Secretariat staff will be required to undertake research to ensure that their nominated charity meets the four criteria above.
The staff suggestions will be collated and verified by the Outreach Team by mid-February based on the above criteria.
From 1st March staff will have the opportunity to vote for their preferred charity from the verified list via an online survey.
The charity receiving the most votes will then be taken to the Commission for approval.
The charity must be approved unanimously by the Commission.
The successful charity will be informed of its selection no later than 1st May to provide sufficient time to plan suitable activities.
The selected charity will become the official Northern Ireland Assembly charity for one calendar year from 1st September.
Privileges accorded to the selected charity
The selected charity will be accorded a number of privileges over the period of 1 year, commencing on 1 April each year. These can be broadly categorised as:
- Fundraising; and
- Secretariat charitable fundraising.
The selected charity will be permitted to hold a limited number of fundraising and revenue generating opportunities in Parliament Buildings.
There are a wide range of opportunities for fundraising and revenue generating which can be afforded by the Assembly Commission. These will include:
- Evening gala event in Parliament Buildings;
- Sale of goods in the Assembly Shop;
- Sales of the Assembly Christmas Card;
- Sales of lost property; and
- Other fundraising activity.
Evening Gala Event in Parliament Buildings
The selected charity will be permitted to hold one evening gala event in Parliament Buildings, which can be used for fund raising. This includes the ability to sell tickets for the event, as well as to raise money on the evening itself. It should be noted that the full cost of all catering for this event must be met by the charity within the cost of the tickets sold, and must be paid for in line with the existing regulations for Assembly functions. However the costs of security, doorkeeping and accommodation will be met by the Assembly Commission.
The rules governing the use of Parliament Buildings for functions are set out in the document “Functions in Parliament Buildings Regulations & Notes for Guidance”. Paragraphs 26 and 27 of those regulations do not permit commercial activity and fund raising respectively. However, paragraph 25 states “The Assembly Commission may determine exemptions or additional conditions on any party and bookings will only be accepted on this basis”.
For the purpose of this policy, paragraph 25 is interpreted as permitting the Commission to deviate from normal practice in respect of the use of Parliament Buildings by exempting its chosen charity from the restrictions in paragraphs 26 and 27. As a result, the Commission will permit fundraising for the selected charity within its own existing guidance. Otherwise, the event will be managed in accordance with the above guidance.
If the selected charity wishes to avail of this opportunity it must not advertise, market or promote the function in a manner which is likely to bring the Assembly into disrepute. All advertising, marketing and promotional material must be approved by the Events Manager and the Head of Communications.
Fundraising may also take place during the event, subject to the prior approval of the Events Manager and the Head of Communications. The method of fundraising must also be approved in advance.
Invitations to the event must be in the name of the Speaker, and the Speaker, if available, will lead the event.
Catering for the event must be paid for in line with the existing regulations for Assembly functions. The Assembly will not be responsible for any loss incurred by the charity due to insufficient interest in the proposed event. Catering, and any other service not provided by the Assembly will be subject to a contractual arrangement between the charity and the service provider.
The selected charity will also be entitled to hold an event in the Long Gallery on a non-sitting day in order to hold a non-fundraising event. This event must be booked through the Assembly’s Events Manager and be in line with existing Assembly guidance on events, although the Sponsor will be the Speaker.
Sale of Goods in the Assembly Shop
The selected charity will be provided with an opportunity to sell goods directly related to the work of the charity in a designated area of the Assembly shop.
If the selected charity opts to sell goods in the Assembly shop then these goods will not take any prominence above other goods for sale there. Any existing policies governing the sale of goods in the Assembly Shop will also be applied to the sales of goods by the charity.
All goods proposed for sale in the Assembly Shop must be approved by the Assembly’s Director of Facilities.
Sales of the Assembly Christmas Card
Each year the Speaker chooses the Assembly Christmas Card, which can be purchased by Members, Secretariat staff and members of the public. From Christmas 2010 onwards, each card will be marked up by £0.25, in support of the selected charity.
Each card will include the charity’s logo and a brief accompanying statement outlining the work of the charity.
Sales of Lost Property
Each year the Assembly sells lost property which has not been claimed by the owner. The proceeds of this sale will be directed to the selected charity.
Other Fundraising Activities
The selected charity will be responsible for working with the Assembly’s Corporate Social Responsibility Team in order to maximise fundraising opportunities. Any additional fundraising proposals must be approved by the Assembly’s Director of Engagement prior to implementation.
Secretariat Fund Raising
Any charitable fundraising events held in Parliament Buildings by Assembly Secretariat staff will be in aid of the selected charity, unless prior approval is received from the Speaker.
If an individual member of staff wishes to participate in fundraising for a charity other than the Assembly’s selected charity, and is seeking sponsorship from colleagues within the Assembly, this is permitted under the policy.