Governance round-up: February 2016

Kids Co – continuing fallout

In case you missed the media, parliament’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee has published its report into Kid’s Company. While laying ultimate blame with the poor governance of this particular charity, the report does draw broader lessons for the Government and the Charity Commission. My colleague Elizabeth blogs on these and the lessons for trustees. The Charity Commission’s own investigation is yet to complete and report.

From the Charity Commission

The Commission has issued a press release stressing charities must engage with their guidance on finance. The three sets of updated guidance are:

A second press release urges charities to remain vigilant about mandate fraud, (i.e. where
the fraudster tricks a victim into changing bank account details in order to divert legitimate payments intended for a genuine organisation (e.g. a charity supplier) to bank accounts instead controlled by fraudsters). The Commission recommends that trustees and other charity professionals familiarise themselves with the Metropolitan Police’s mandate fraud advice.

They’ve also issued advice about logging into the Commission’s online services and keeping a charity’s information up-to-date and accurate.

Data Protection for small and medium organisations

The Information Commissioner’s Office has launched a self-assessment tool that will help
small and medium sized organisations (SMEs) to assess their compliance with the Data Protection Act. The toolkit provides links to relevant guidance and further information, and will generate a rating based on responses.

Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill

The Charities Bill has now had its third reading in the House of Commons. This means the Bill, if approved, could receive Royal Assent and become law within a matter of weeks. The Guardian’s David Brindle provides a handy summary.

Seek advice when you need it

With one of the responsibilities of trustees being to seek external advice when they don’t have the expertise around the table, I thought it timely to remind readers of our friends at LawWorks – a charity that links not-for-profits with pro bono lawyers in various areas of law. Where a small not-for-profit (<£500k income) needs help with a one-off legal issue, LawWorks matches the organisation with a volunteer lawyer from its network of member law firms and in-house legal teams. They also produce their Free Talks – short online videos about common legal issues faced by small not-for-profit organisations.

New publications:

  • Our colleagues at Directory of Social Change have produced a new guide to Charitable Incorporated Organisations. It illustrates the benefits and pitfalls of the structure and guides you through setting one up or converting your existing charitable structure.
  • New Philanthropy Capital have produced a briefing paper entitled Trusteeship In Small Charities: Practical Tips And Advice
  • BBC Radio 4’s The Bottom Line broadcast Managing the Boardroom on company boards and the role of the director The focus is private sector but the issues and behaviours discussed will be recognised by many a charitable board member.

Our best pick of the governance blogs

Upcoming governance training and events

  • NCVO funding conference in association with Kingston Smith – 29 Feb
  • Understanding the numbers: financial intelligence for trustees – 4 Mar
  • The high performance board – 14 Mar
  • Breakfast learning session – The Lobbying Act: what trustees need to know – 18 March
  • 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.
  • Charity Trustees: Induction and refresher training – 29 April
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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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