I am pleased to provide this brief introduction to the 2019/20 Annual Financial Statements of the Commonwealth Foundation. My thanks to our Finance Team for its usual diligent work under unexpectedly difficult conditions. I also express thanks to our auditors, whose guidance has been especially valuable and deeply appreciated.
The Covid-19 emergency has created great challenges across every sector and every level. The Foundation has actively sought to adapt its own ways of thinking and working so that we can continue to deliver muchneeded support to Commonwealth civil society during this difficult time. The team has been working remotely since mid-March 2020 and have demonstrated the capacity to adapt and change in a difficult environment.
Despite significant operational limitations since mid-March, much of the Foundation’s planned work for 2019/20 has been completed as planned. This includes meeting our target of completing the external audit process within four months of the end of the financial year.
The Foundation’s grants programme provides a useful example of the twin strategies of ‘business as usual’ and ‘adaptation’ that we sought to pursue in the second half of the financial year. The regular grants programme continued apace with applications received during the 2019-2020 call reviewed and final decisions taken as planned. However, a shift was made to the programme for the coming year: broadening the reach of the call and seeking proposals that relate to post-pandemic recovery and rebuilding. The Foundation was also able to use allocated funds to provide additional support to existing grantees who are facing difficulties keeping to implementation schedules as a result of the pandemic.
The true impact of the pandemic remains to be seen and the Foundation, like all others, must navigate a future marked by instability and uncertainty. We are conscious, for example, that some of our valued Member States may find it difficult to continue their regular, assessed contributions for some time. Other Member States that are in serious arrears to the Foundation are unlikely to be in a position to discharge their debts, at least for the foreseeable future. We have accordingly taken the step of disclosing outstanding arrears that meet certain criteria as bad debt provision in the 2019/20 Financial Statements.
Working closely with our auditors, the Foundation will continue to carefully monitor developments, faithfully implementing our commitment to transparency by ensuring that our true financial position is communicated as clearly as possible, including through up-to-date and meaningful disclosures.
Dr Anne T. Gallagher AO is Director-General of the Commonwealth Foundation.Download Audited Financial Statements 2019-2020