Governance round-up: January 2016

Risk management: data protection, security and privacy

One of the biggest issues I’ve noticed in recent months is data security and privacy. There have been a number of developments worth noting from a governance perspective.

Train your volunteers

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has found ‘serious failings’ in the way volunteers at The Alzheimer’s Society handled sensitive personal data. It has ordered the charity to take action after discovering that volunteers were using personal email addresses to receive and share information about service users, storing unencrypted data on their home computers and failing to keep paper records locked away. The ICO also found that volunteers were not trained in data protection, the charity’s policies and procedures were not explained to them and they had little supervision from staff. The Society has responded but the broader lessons for others are clear.

The ICO website is actually a very useful source of support containing specific pages for the charity sector.

NCVO guidance and training

Get up to date on the latest developments in data protection legislation and find out what you need to do to ensure you stay within the law at our Data Protection Seminar on 25 January. We’ve also updated our own guidance pages on data protection on our Knowhow knowledge base site.

Writing a policy

The Gloucestershire Rural Community Council has a handy guided template (Word, 125KB) to create your own data protection or privacy policy and to be used alongside the guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office to ensure it is specific to your circumstances.

Wise words

In a couple of guest blog posts on our website NCVO trusted suppliers Gary Webb from Bond Payroll Services covers  what voluntary organisations can learn from the Morrisons data leak and Joseph Blass from WorkPlaceLive IT support discusses whether your security is up to the task.

Government proposals

FOI, transparency and charities

Over Christmas, Cabinet Office minister Matthew Hancock called for the FOI Act to be extended to include charities in receipt of government funding. NCVO’s head of policy, Charlotte Ravenscroft, responded to say that we are wholeheartedly in favour of transparency, but believe there are better, more cost effective ways to achieve it than extending the FOI Act directly to charities.

Fundraising regulation

The Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill has had a clause inserted to enable the government to set up a statutory fundraising regulator, or hand responsibility to the Charity Commission, if self-regulation fails. See this Civil Society Media article for a summary of discussion of the amendment on 7 January by the Parliamentary Committee examining the Bill.

The Institute of Fundraising and Small Charities Coalition are holding a fundraising forum in London on 4 February at 2pm, as part of their consultation with smaller charities about the changes taking place to charity fundraising regulation in the coming months.

Register for a place

From the Charity Commission

Beware The Big Kahuna

The Charity Commission recently issued its 2015 report about its compliance and investigations work. It highlights one of the risks to good governance and board effectiveness being dominant individuals. At NCVO we are often contacted by charity trustees in conflict, with this being a common source. It’s imperative that you get the decision making processes and culture right. I find It’s your decision: charity trustees and decision making (CC27) one of the Charity Commission’s most useful and accessible pieces of guidance.

‘The dog ate my homework’

Well, not quite… but the Commission has compiled a rather amusing list of excuses for poor filing of accounts by trustees. The serious message is Commission research found that 32 percent of accounts submitted were not of ‘adequate quality’ in the 12 months up to 31 March 2013 – based on a random sample.

Our best blog posts for boards

Upcoming governance training and events

  • Trustee induction/refresher training – 5 Feb
  • Understanding the numbers: financial intelligence for trustees – 4 Mar
  • The high performance board – 14 Mar
  • NCVO Annual Conference 2016: Creating the future for voluntary action. – Join us on Monday 18 April to consider how charities have changed and what we need to do to set the agenda for tomorrow’s voluntary sector.


How to be a better leader

Further your professional development and enhance your leadership skills in our practical Annual Conference workshop on 18 April 2016.

Find out more about NCVO Annual Conference 2016


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Avatar photo 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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