Governance round-up: November 2015

 Trust and confidence are our lifeblood. If we don’t express our values in all we do, we will erode the trust and confidence on which our charities and our sector rely for their good work to flourish.

Philip Kirkpatrick, Joint Head of Charity, Bates Wells & Braithwaite

Trustee Conference 2015

November is a booming month for governance activity. The NCVO/BWB annual Trustee Conference kicked off Trustees’ Week, with events across the country. Philip Kirkpatrick’s words (above) are taken from his keynote address, which focused on a balanced critique of aspects of charity fundraising but also tackled some of the incorrect and exaggerated media coverage over the past summer. He then drew back to some useful observations and reality checking about trusteeship in general. If you’re a trustee it’s a thought provoking and reassuring read.

See other conference presentations

Fundraising regulation reform

At our conference, Alice Faire Walker from BWB gave a helpful summary of where we are at with fundraising and stressed the oversight by trustees of fundraising activity.

Review of fundraising – initiatives Current status
Government-commissioned review of regulation of fundraising led by Sir Stuart Etherington Report published September 2015
Government proposals to add new statutory fundraising obligations to the Charities Act 1992 and Charities Act 2006 The Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill is progressing through the House of Commons.  Unlikely to become law until 2016 earliest
Parliamentary inquiry into charity fundraising (Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee) Ongoing
Information Commissioner’s Office review of charity data sharing practices Ongoing
Various FRSB investigations Ongoing
Changes to the Institute of Fundraising Code of Fundraising Practice Some changes made in summer and September 2015; more changes expected
Charity Commission review of its publication “CC20 Charities and Fundraising” Consultation on revised draft expected in October

Company law changes

For those of you who are trustees of charitable companies, there are a couple of reforms to the Companies Act to be aware of.

  • Ban on Corporate Directors – It will no longer be possible for companies to have corporate directors. From October 2016 all directors of a company must be natural persons. This does not affect ex-officio directors. Any appointment of a corporate director after this date will be void. Any existing corporate directors will cease to be directors one year after the changes take effect. There are likely to be some exceptions so stay tuned.
  • Annual Returns will no longer have to be filed at Companies House – The new requirement is to file a statement every 12 months, confirming that Companies House has been duly notified of all changes (such as director appointments and change of director particulars) within that 12 month period. The change is scheduled to take place in April 2016. While this may help with company administration, don’t forget your annual return to the Charity Commission still needs to be done.

HMRC has published new model Gift Aid declarations

HMRC has said the new wording must be used from 6 April 2016 and has issued new guidance. Crucially, charities will not need to contact donors to update existing enduring declarations. HMRC has agreed that charities may use up existing stock of pre-printed material beyond that date.

My colleague Michael Birtwistle writes more about the changes in his blog post.

Independence of charities and trustee fiduciary powers and duties

Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT) was an interested party in the recent Cage judicial review of the Charity Commission. The case was withdrawn by agreement before completing but did raise issues about the extent of the Commission’s powers to ‘fetter the discretion for all-time’ of a charity’s trustees in making funding decisions. BWB acting for JRCT has produced a summary note and Civil Society Media also covered the story.

A question of balance – a guide to the chair and chief executive relationship

The Association of Chairs has produced a free guide to help chairs explore and strengthen the relationship they have with their CEO. It is intended primarily for chairs, both new and experienced, but will also be useful to vice chairs, trustees, CEOs and governance advisers.

Governance blog posts pick ‘n’ mix

My NCVO colleagues (and a few guests) have been keen governance bloggers this month:

And if you’re after a bit of training or development…

Fundraising responsibilities for trustees – 25 January 2016

Charity trustee: induction and refresher course – 5 February 2016

Understanding the numbers: financial intelligence for trustees – 4 March 2016

The high performance board – 14 March 2016

New NCVO Trusted Supplier, ella forums, who are specialists in leadership development, would like to invite you to a complimentary leadership development taster meeting specifically for NCVO members. 7 December, 9.00-13.30 at NCVO. To find out more and book your place email or call 0207 7545 707.


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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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