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Companies regularly overlook the need to include charity compliance as part of their corporate volunteering and giving programmes. Don’t get caught out — it can be a very expensive oversight.

Not knowing who your company is dealing with (especially when money is changing hands) can lead to serious financial penalties, not to mention reputational damage.

The challenge is twofold:

1. Knowing what’s going on in the business.

Firstly, do you even know the extent of employee engagement in your company? Employees do a lot, but you may never hear about it. Volunteers will readily give up their time to go ‘do good’, but you’ll be hard pressed to get them to tell you about it.

2. Knowing who you’re dealing with.

Secondly, even if you do know about all the donations, grants or volunteering that’s taking place, do you know enough about the organisations that are being supported? Maybe it’s someone local that you have a relationship with, but maybe it’s not. This challenge becomes exponentially harder the more employees you have.

So, what should you be doing?

To find out what your employees are up to, you need to make it as convenient as possible for them to tell you. Try logging activity at source rather than collecting data in spreadsheets, and ideally use something that provides a level of accountability and auditability. For larger companies, consider using a solution that can work worldwide and that matches your company culture. A company with employees out in the field, for example, should use a mobile application to get volunteers to log their activity on the go.

When it comes to knowing the charities you’re working with, trying to validate an organisation internally is tricky — most companies don’t have the resources or expertise to do it. The options are to either work with a very limited number of charities or find an alternative solution. When looking for a vetting partner, look for one that is focussed on vetting charitable organisations rather than a generalist business due diligence service — there’s some overlap, but it’s not the same thing.

While the majority of charities your employees engage with will be reputable, taking steps to ensure that the minority — those you wouldn’t want to be associated with — doesn’t slip through is essential, at least if you want to avoid any unwanted surprises.

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