The charity sector faces unprecedented risks in the form of the emerging threats of cyber security and data and accounting manipulation.
Mark Cummins of TC Group told delegates at a seminar that the consequences of fraud can range from disillusioned stakeholders and catastrophic loss of trust to severely dislocated service delivery and ultimately the charity’s very existence.
Touching upon the various risks facing charities, Cummins cited ‘insider fraud’ as of particular significance. This is typically committed by an employee or even a trustee and can range from submitting false invoices to the selling of personal data to unscrupulous agencies or businesses.
He pointed to ingrained institutional weaknesses within many charities which tend to compound their exposure to risk, typically a poor culture at the top, little understanding of fraud, inadequate management controls and limited or no internal auditing or managed security.
And with 168,000 charities registered in England and Wales generating £77 billion in income, the need is greater than ever before to understand the nature and extent of fraud related risk, as he explained:
‘Recent events such as that of Oxfam’s Haiti operation have revealed just how vulnerable even very large charities are, although it is the smaller charities that typically face greater risks.
‘Most charities assume that they are safe and that nothing will happen to them, but they’re wrong. Charities should make every effort to understand the nature and extent of their risk exposure, introduce appropriate policies and controls to manage that and then be on high alert for any warning signs.
‘Equally important is that they can quickly respond to any issues and are also able to continually update and review their systems.’
For further information about how your charity can best protect itself against fraud related risk, please contact Mark Cummins at TC Group on 01903 816699, or email: MarkCummins@tc-group.com