Questions are being asked about the integrity of a top UK charity's governance and prudent use of charitable funds, after it paid a large sum to a departing chief executive in return for a confidentiality agreement.
According to The Times yesterday, the Charity Commission has sought "urgent assurances" from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) about a payment made to its former CEO in return for which a confidentiality agreement prevents him from discussing the details.
The Charity Commission itself is also being challenged by the Countryside Alliance to explain whether such gagging payments to departing staff can ever be considered a prudent use of charitable funds.
"The Charities Commission said it had asked for information on the settlement. 'We are seeking urgent assurances from the RSPCA on reports that it has made a settlement to a former senior member of staff,' it said. 'This comes as part of ongoing engagement with the charity, about whose governance we have had serious concerns.'
"The Countryside Alliance said it had complained about the RSPCA’s governance in light of the settlement with Mr Ward. “We will also be asking the Charity Commission whether gagging payments to departing staff can ever be considered a prudent use of charitable funds".
There's a broader issue here which comes down to the core values of the charity sector and what some see as the ever narrowing gap with the private sector.
A few weeks ago, on Facebook, Andrew Sutton asked something similar in the following set of questions:
Not just in CE, does experience suggest that it is necessary for such an organisation to corporatise in order to survive?
And if so, is this a good thing, or a bad?
If the latter, are there examples of successful alternatives?
I'm still thinking about that - but gagging agreements? Large pay-offs to encourage CEOs to leave? What do such private sector practices say about our sector's core values? Is corporatisation necessary for survival - or a betrayal of core values and purpose?
This post follows broadly in the theme that began with "Fat-cat academy pay costs pupils, say MPs" and continued with "Top Pay? Who Gets What And Why And How Do You Know?"