Charity whistleblowers: how and why we value them


We want to make it easier for charity workers and volunteers to draw serious concerns about their charity to our attention, particularly where the charity’s trustees and senior management team aren’t addressing them.

The intelligence that we get from whistleblowers can be vital in helping us to protect charities from financial loss, safeguarding and many other serious risks.

We know that the decision to blow the whistle can be difficult for the individual because of the tensions it creates over their loyalty to the organisation and their own livelihood and status.

That’s why we’ve been significantly upgrading our support for potential whistleblowers in recent months.

Monday 3 June 2019 brings the next improvement when an advice line specifically for charity whistleblowers opens for business.

Callers to this advice line will receive confidential advice to help them decide what to do about raising a serious concern about their charity, including whether and how to raise their concerns with us.

Created by us (with funding from Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) but – crucially - operated independently by the specialist whistleblowing charity Protect, it’s part of our commitment to improving the confidence of individuals when facing what can otherwise be an isolating and difficult decision about speaking up.

This will be something that we pilot, so we will be closely monitoring and evaluating its impact on the experience of charity whistleblowers and on the amount and quality of intelligence it gives us.

Of course, we have to make sure that the whole process of blowing the whistle to us is effective from start to finish. This means, for example, being able to access at the start clear guidance from us. It also means facing as few barriers as possible to raising the sorts of serious concerns we want to hear.

Details of the whistleblowing process and advice line are available in our guidance: Report serious wrongdoing at a charity as a worker or volunteer.

Evaluating and acting on concerns

Once a whistleblower has contacted us, they need more re-assurance that we understand the points they have made and they also want more clarity on how we intend to proceed. To that end we are testing a new service that will see us:

  • phone each whistleblower directly to discuss the concerns they have raised
  • provide a direct point of contact should they need to speak to us further as we take the matter forward

We will continue to evaluate and act on concerns from whistleblowers in line with our risk operating model so that we are able to focus our attention on the most serious risks, and use information about less serious risks to build up a better informed picture of the threats to individual or groups of charities.

Last year I committed us to improving the experience of whistleblowers: hand in hand with that commitment lies our ability to detect and act on intelligence from whistleblowers about charities at serious risk of harm.

It’s another outward sign of our commitment to creating a regulatory environment that ensures that charity can thrive and inspire trust so that people can improve lives and strengthen society.

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