By their very nature, charities exist in a precarious space. As a major part of their funding comes from the public, their perception of conduct, and, to an extent, 'worthiness', is a huge concern. After all, any impropriety or misconduct made common knowledge could seriously impact donations, especially when there are so many other organisations vying for the good will.
In that context, whistleblowing is understandably a worrying notion for charities to consider. What's worse in the long run though is for a charity to bury its head in the sand and be caught up in an uncontrolled, and therefore extremely damaging, malpractice situation - the kind that could have been avoided if a comprehensive whistleblowing procedure had been in place. Having an effective and accessible way for whistleblowers to raise their concerns is absolutely vital in order for charities to be transparent and accountable to donors.
Here's how charities can ensure they have a system in place that works, and just some of the benefits it will bring.
Put the right measures in place
Not having a suitably robust whistleblowing policy in place will be nothing but damaging when malpractice hits. No company is immune from poor choices or malicious acts, not even organisations with the most noble aims, which is why a clear and actionable whistleblowing policy is key to mitigating any damage before it can spread.
The first step should be to appoint a whistleblowing officer, someone who can lead and implement company policy relating to disclosures in the public interest. They will also be responsible for ensuring the safety and confidentiality of any whistleblower, and making sure that the correct steps are always followed.
Giving employees access to an independent whistleblowing hotline will also give them the confidence to report any concerns, safe in the knowledge that a fair investigation will be carried out, free of the threat of bias and office politics.
Provide training for all levels
A huge part of ensuring a workable whistleblowing process is to provide training. Training is the only way to ensure that staff at all levels know how to access whistleblowing support, as well as the ins and outs of the system. The best training for staff will demonstrate what the obligations of the charity that employs them are, while also outlining the actions necessary to blow the whistle alongside the series of events that take place afterwards and during an investigation.
Separate training for a charity's management is also highly recommended. Management-focused sessions will help those in higher positions within the charity to see the benefits of whistleblowing, and not to be afraid of it as a concept. More than that though, training will help management-level staff to better support whistleblowers, which ultimately benefits the charity as a whole.
Find out more about our eLearning or classroom-based whistleblowing training click here
Listen to your staff
After your charity has put whistleblowing procedures into place, it is vitally important that you regularly poll your staff to ensure that they know how the system works, and are confident in their ability to blow the whistle if necessary. If staff don't understand or don't trust the measures that your charity has in place then it simply won't be effective.
Listening to staff and taking feedback is the best way to ensure a working whistleblowing system is in place, one that will allow those with the charities interests at heart to protect its reputation by taking vital action.
Originally published 5TH AUGUST 2020 .
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.