CFDG and Cass Business School release review of ten years of risk management

31st January 2012

CFDG published ‘Managing risk in charities: Lessons from the past decade and a look into the future’ today at their Risk Conference 2012. Based on research by Paul Bennett and Tim Gage, two researchers from Cass Business School, this paper explores themes in the development of risk management in the sector and makes recommendations for improving practice.

The research was based on 10 years of findings from the CFDG/PKF Risk Surveys, focus groups with senior finance professionals in the sector and interviews with a case study identified as demonstrating good practice.

Caron Bradshaw, CEO of CFDG said; ‘Encouragingly, the report found that risk management practices have developed significantly in the sector over the past decade, with trustees becoming increasingly involved in the process. However, the effectiveness of risk management in the sector could still improve, with indications that some risk analysis is more reactive and that the numbers of charities fully embedding risk management in their organisation is not increasing to the extent that it should be.’

The report makes several recommendations. These include enhancing skills in risk management across an organisation and not solely holding responsibility for risk at the top-end; creating standardised approaches; and ensuring that processes are robust through better documentation, policy and strategy. Caron continued; ‘Today’s CFDG Risk Conference will welcome more than 200 charity professionals that are coming to develop their knowledge and skills further in this area.’

Professor Paul Palmer, Associate Dean and Director of the Centre for Charity Effectiveness, Cass Business School said; ‘This is timely as we enter a potential ten years of austerity after what has been a sustained period of growth in a benevolent environment. What is most interesting in the report is the extent to which external factors have been identified as a growing risk – in particular government policy.’

Richard Weighell, risk management partner at PKF and one of the authors of the annual Risk Surveys, said; ‘The sector has comes a long way over the past 10 years and it is encouraging to see that risk management is now firmly embedded into the psyche of most not-for-profit organisations. But it would be unwise for charities to rest on their laurels. The next year is going to be tough and effective risk management will be essential as charities continue to adapt to the challenging economic environment.’

- Ends -

Notes to Editors:

1. CFDG is the charity that promotes best practice in charity finance management, supporting finance managers with conferences, training and a wealth of web-based information. CFDG is also active in the policy arena, working on issues that affect charity finances. CFDG’s circa 1700 members are responsible for the finances of charities with a wide variety of income levels. Between them our members manage some £21.75 billion in charity income per year, around half of the sector’s income.

If you would like to discuss any of these issues further please contact the CFDG Policy team at or on 0207 2508347

2. The full report can be read here.

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