Governance round up – September 2014

With summer holidays behind us our focus this month turns back to the work of supporting good governance in voluntary and community organisations.

The Good Trustee

The big event on the horizon is NCVO’s annual Trustee Conference on 10 November 2014 in association with BWB. If you are a chair, new to trusteeship or an experienced board member looking to update your knowledge, our programme ensures there’s something valuable for you with:

  • keynote speakers to inspire thought and discussion
  • workshops to give you practical tools and information on a variety of topics for a range of experience levels
  • the latest legal and policy updates.

Multiple booking discounts are available for more than two registrations.

If you can’t make the conference then perhaps one of our training courses might suit with Charity Trustee: Induction and refresher training on 21 October for a back to basics session. Or Better Board Meetings on 9 December aimed at all trustees on how to conduct more effective board meetings and make the right decisions for your organisation.

Support with the new SORP 2015 (Statement of Recommended Practice)

Charity Finance Group, together with partner organisations, are running a series of SORP events and training sessions for the rest of the year to ensure that you are up-to-date with the latest changes and to help you plan. The program includes sessions for smaller charities, international charities and trustees.

The Lobbying Act – a template board paper

With Scotland independence referendum complete, the new rules for non-party campaigners in the 2015 general election came into force on 19 September 2014. The rules have been changed by the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 (aka The Lobbying Act). This template board paper from NCVO sets out the legal requirements of the Lobbying Act and what you need to consider in your planned campaign activity during the regulated period.

It will take you through the new law and how it applies to your planned campaign activity step-by-step. It will help you to understand whether or not you need to register with the Electoral Commission as a non-party campaigner, and advise your board accordingly. It is NCVO’s recommendation that even if you do not think you will be required to register, as good governance practice you document that decision and seek agreement from your board of trustees.

NCVO is able to review your completed board paper on a consultancy basis. For more information please contact Charlotte Taylor.

From the Charity Commission

At their recent annual meeting, new Charity Commission CEO, Paula Sussex said the commission have committed to becoming a risk-based regulator. This would involve the organisation’s monitoring team looking at trends in the sector in an attempt to anticipate mismanagement or abuse that could arise. “If they detect criminal or fraudulent activity, they will follow through on some of the trends,” she said. I presume this means if more than a few of your peer-organisations are stepping out of line you might expect some scrutiny yourself.

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All those saved favourites and bookmarks to your most useful pieces of guidance on the Charity Commission website will need to be refreshed. The Commission’s website has been closed and the content has shifted to the gov.uk mega site.

The Commission’s new home page is now the less than snappy https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/charity-commission and your old links will default to this page.

How serious is serious?

With the Charity Commission becoming more visible and vocal about their enforcement and investigatory role, they have recently issued a reminder of the requirement for charities to report serious incidents to them.

The Commission defines an incident as serious if it risks or results in significant loss of a charity’s money or assets, damage to a charity’s property or harm to a charity’s work, beneficiaries or reputation. The most common types of incidents reported include fraud, theft and confirmed safeguarding issues. Their guidance on reporting serious incidents is on the new site.

Food for thought

The Road Travelled for the Voluntary Sector

At the recent annual public meeting of the Charity Commission historian Dr Frank Prochaska provided an interesting long term socio-political perspective on the blurring distinction between State and charity with plenty to inform your current strategic choices.

The Road Ahead for the Voluntary Sector – 17 October 2014, 8.30- 11.00

Join NCVO’s Director of Public Policy, Karl Wilding to look at the future of the sector in terms of identity, economics, politics and technology. All good governance and strategic fodder for board members and senior staff.

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Myles Kunzli Myles currently leads on NCVO’s practical support offer and was previously an NCVO governance consultant. He has spent most of his career in the UK and Australian voluntary sectors. Myles is a former chief executive of both a local law centre and the Community Legal Centres Association of Western Australia. He is also an experienced trustee and chair of various frontline organisations and umbrella bodies in the legal aid, human rights and health sub-sectors.

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