Charities must be accountable and transparent in order to be effective. Significant advances have been made in recent years to standardise and establish regulation within the sector. A number of initiatives have been developed to facilitate this process and support charities to practice good governance.
Governance refers to how an organisation is run, directed and controlled. Good governance means that an organisation makes every effort to design and implement policies and procedures that will ensure it can operate effectively and efficiently, with integrity that honours the people whom it serves and who have made that possible through their donations. Fighting Blindness is fully committed to this work and to ensuring that we have the best possible governance structures in place so that we are being accountable to our donors and beneficiaries.
The governing instrument of a corporate charity, previously known as a Memorandum and Articles of Association, is called a Constitution. You can download and read the Constitution of Fighting Blindness.
Founded in 1983, the charity was established as a patient-led organisation, and we remain as such. This means that people living with vision loss are always involved in our authority and decision making processes.
Fighting Blindness is a membership based organisation with an annual subscription fee. Membership is open to anyone interested in the work of the organisation. The members form the general body that has responsibility for the constitution of the charity, appointment of the independent auditors, approval of the annual accounts and approval of appointments to the Board of Directors.
The Board of Directors is a voluntary group who bring different skills and expertise to the organisation. As a patient-led organisation, the majority of the Board is always made up of people who are affected by sight loss themselves, or have a close family member who is. The Chairman of the Board, along with the other directors, oversees the administration of our affairs and is charged with setting the strategy and goals of the organisation. There are also a number of voluntary sub-committees of the Board who focus more closely on and advise on specific areas of activity, for example research or fundraising.
The executive team is comprised of a Chief Executive along with six departments within the organisation: research, counselling, advocacy, finance, fundraising and operations. This staff are responsible for implementing the strategy and running the day to day activities of the company.
The Medical and Scientific Advisory Board (MSAB) is a committee which plays an invaluable role in advising the Directors by appraising new grant applications and monitoring on-going research projects. It offers counsels on research policies and strategy, as well as ensuring that the quality of our research is maintained. The MSAB consists of Irish and international experts in the fields of science and vision research.
Fighting Blindness receives approximately 13% of its funding from the HSE in support of our counselling services and from the Health Research Board in relation to some co-funded research projects. The remaining 87% is achieved through the many varied fundraising activities of our dedicated supporters.
Every year we hold an Annual General Meeting (AGM) where our annual accounts are presented to the members for approval. These accounts are also included in our Annual Report which is available in a number of formats and is published on our website. Historic annual reports for the last 10 years are also available on the website here.
It is important to note that all of the salaries in Fighting Blindness are in line with standards published by The Wheel, the representative body for community and voluntary organisations and charities in Ireland. We have a carefully managed budget with strict spending guidelines to ensure that we are as cost effective and vigilant as we can be when expending resources.
The Charities Regulatory Authority (CRA) was created as an independent statutory body in 2014 under the Charities Act 2009. It aims to build public trust and confidence in the management and administration of charitable organisations. Fighting Blindness is registered with the CRA and as such is required to report on its activities and finances to the Regulator on an annual basis. You can find out more at www.charitiesregulatoryauthority.ie.
We have signed up to and are in the process of aligning with the detailed requirements of the Governance Code, a code of practice for Good Governance of Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations in Ireland. Further information is available at www.governancecode.ie.
Good governance is a cornerstone of Fighting Blindness and we work carefully to ensure that we are accountable and transparent in all of our dealings. We welcome your questions or concerns in relation to any of the above. If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact Anna Moran on 01 6789 004 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Fighting Blindness our mission is to fund world-class research that will lead to treatments and cures for blindness. We are committed to supporting people and families who are affected by vision impairment via our counselling and support services. Through education and advocacy, we work to empower everyone in Ireland living with sight loss.