Governance round-up: April 2016

State of the sector

At our recent annual conference, NCVO chief executive Sir Stuart Etherington delivered a state of the sector address. His comments include threats to public trust in charities, anti-advocacy clauses in government grants and a call for an improved governance structure for the Charity Commission to ensure political independence.

The youth of today… are volunteering more than ever

Trustees and governance professionals may well be interested in our 2016 Civil Society Almanac and data released this month. It’s a comprehensive collection of data and analysis of the size and scope of the sector by income, economic value, workforce and volunteerism.

From a governance point of view it may help in benchmarking your organisation, planning and seeing the broader landscape and trends in which your organisation exists.

My colleague Jennifer Cress outlines the top 10 findings, while Nick Ockenden explores reasons behind a rather dramatic increase in young people volunteering, and Kristin Stephenson looks at the implications for volunteer managers.

Anti-advocacy clause

In less good news, NCVO and ACEVO have written to the minister for civil society Matt Hancock about the government’s failure to address concerns raised by 130 charity leaders about the anti-advocacy clause being inserted into agreements for those organisations in receipt of government grants.

EU referendum campaigning

Last month I referenced Charity Commission’s rather stern supplementary guidance for charities wishing to campaign, which they have since issued further clarification on.

This month NCVO has issued a discussion paper for trustees on implications of EU membership. Rather than weigh up the pros and cons of EU membership, the paper seeks to provide a template for discussion for trustees and senior managers when considering the implications of the referendum.

Data protection regulation

The Information Commissioner’s Office has published some very handy “12 steps to take now” to prepare for the EU General Data Protection Regulation, expected to take effect mid-2018.

Charity law amendments and ‘official warnings’

In the recent round of amendments to charity law one of the more controversial elements was the ability of the Charity Commission to issue a charity with an ‘official warning’. Third sector magazine explores some concerns about the changes.

From the Charity Commission

Until now only newly incorporating organisations could choose the Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) option. It’s been a long wait but the commission and Cabinet Office have issued a consultation paper and proposed a timetable for existing charitable companies wishing to convert to a CIO form:

  • 1 October 2016: Charitable companies with an annual income greater than £500,000
  • 1 December 2016: Charitable companies with an annual income between £250,000 and £500,000
  • 1 February 2017: Charitable companies with an annual income between £100,000 and £250,000
  • 1 April 2017: Charitable companies with an annual income between £25,000 and £100,000
  • 1 July 2017: Charitable companies with an annual income of less than £25,000

For community interest companies (CICs) wishing to convert the start date is 1 October 2017.

More from the commission

  • The Commission has announced that there will be a new look and feel of the annual return for 2016, which will be launched in April. One confirmed change in the new version is the need to confirm that charity information including contact, trustees, email addresses and charity activities is up to date before completing the rest of the 2016 form.
  • The commission has used a media release expressing concern that too many small charities do not know about their reporting obligations and published 3 reportslooking at the quality of charity annual reports and accounts in both the up to £25,000 (smaller) and over £25,000 (larger) income brackets; and at how well charities are meeting their public benefit reporting requirements.
  • For charities wishing or required to register with the commission they have launched a new online service.

Best of the blogs

Upcoming training and events

  • Practical tools, guidance, best practice and compliance as a voluntary sector employer at the NCVO/BWB HR Conference on Monday 9 May.
  • Charity Trustees: Induction and refresher training – 29 April
  • Fundraising responsibilities for trustees – 4 May
  • Understanding the numbers: financial intelligence for trustees – 20 May


This is my last monthly governance round-up. My governance consultant colleague Dan Francis will take over from next month.


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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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