First France - now England?
Charity reports 'not transparent'
Top charities are failing to provide proper information in their annual reports, according to a study by the industry watchdog.
The Charity Commission has examined reports and accounts from the top 200 charities in England and Wales.
The study discovered that one third "sold themselves short" when detailing their achievements.
While charities mainly relying on government funding were classified as "among the least transparent".
Most of the underperforming charities operate in culture, sport, recreation, health and housing.
The commission worked on the basis that any interested party should be able to get a complete picture of the financial performance, deployment of resources, structure, policies, priorities and achievements of a charity.
Its study claimed that 13 charities "said nothing at all" about their achievements.
And almost half of the charities using volunteers "did not comment on their contribution as required".
International aid charities were the best performers, followed by those organisations working in social services and relief.
126 charities explained their achievements well
13 said nothing at all about their achievements
92 did not comment sufficiently on the activities of volunteers
12 international aid charities were top performers
73 charities, which mainly rely on government funding, were among the least transparent
Chief Charity Commissioner John Stoker said that the general standard was "not satisfactory" among the largest charities.
He said: "While there are some very good examples, too many charities in our study did not meet even the basic requirements.
"We hope that all charities will read the report and respond constructively.
"It's the large charities in particular who should be leading the way."
Stephen Ainger, chief executive of Charities Aid Foundation which provides financial services to charities, said the industry must "raise its game".
He said: "It is vital that charities provide crystal clear information about their objectives, activities, use of their funds and impact.
"If we are to retain the trust and confidence of donors, the charity sector must be raising its game and providing the range of information that donors are likely to demand."
The commission also surveyed 1,000 members of the public, 70% of whom felt it is important for charities to provide such information in their reports.
The study, entitled Transparency and Accountability, involved 200 charities with a combined annual expenditure of £7bn.