Serious Incident Reporting

Serious Incident Reporting – When should trustees report to the Charity Commission during the COVID-19 Pandemic?

The Charity Commission has made it clear that; trustee’s, auditors, independent examiners and other individuals, should still be submitting Serious Incident Reports in line with their normal guidelines. However, generic reports stating that COVID-19 is effecting your Charity are not required as the Charity Commission are aware that the pandemic is going to effect the entire sector, may that be due to reduced funding, poor cash flow or insufficient staffing which can obstruct the charity from carrying out their charitable objectives.  

A serious incident is an adverse event, whether actual or alleged, which results in or risks significant:

  • harm to your charity’s beneficiaries, staff, volunteers or others who come into contact with your charity through its work (who are collectively referred to throughout this guidance as people who come into contact with your charity through its work)
  • damage to your charity’s property
  • harm to your charity’s work or reputation
  • loss of your charity’s money or assets


Trustees should notify the Charity Commission if they have or are forecast to lose the greater of either £25,000 or 25% of their annual income.

We are suggesting that charities should start to assess their need to notify the charity commission due to a loss of income by looking at their cash flow forecasts now and create a 13-week plan to assess the worst case scenario. This will identify where or when key trigger points may arise, that would result in a notification to the Charity Commission.

Charities should also look at updating their risk registers to identify any current or new risks that could develop due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Procedures can then be created and implemented across the charity to mitigate these risks where possible.

When notifying the Charity Commission of a serious incident it is always useful to include details of how you are currently managing the actual or alleged situation to provide evidence that the trustees have acknowledged the risks to the charity and are now putting processes in place to mitigate any further risks or incidents.

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