Governance round-up: August 2016

Winifred Tumim Prize

We are very excited to invite applications to Winifred Tumim Prize for best practice in charity governance. The award was established by NCVO in honour of the work done by Lady Winifred Tumim, chair of NCVO from 1996-2001.

The winning entry will be the applicant who can best demonstrate how they have improved the effectiveness of their governance and delivered greater public benefit as a charity in line with Good Governance: a Code for the Voluntary and Community Sector.

This year they are particularly interested in entries which show how the skills and diversity of the board have been improved.

With a first prize of £1,000 given at the NCVO/BWB annual Trustee Conference and some great runner up prizes – make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to demonstrate how your governance has improved.

Are charity chairs getting the support they need?

The Association of Chairs (AoC) have completed a piece of work aimed at understanding where chairs and vice-chairs get support and what issues that are of concern to them. The results are quite revealing with 34% of chairs saying they received no training and 46% of boards having no budget for board development.

In her guest blog post on the findings Rosalind Oakley the executive director and co-founder of the Association of Chairs, urges funders to think carefully about governance and says that by taking time time to plan an induction, or signpost to resources and training, then supporting chairs needn’t be expensive.

From the commission

New litigation guidance for charities

The commission has published a new set of litigation guidance for charities. The commission say this new guidance ‘clarifies the issues that trustees need to consider when faced with litigation and helps them comply with their legal obligations as well as their duty to act in the best interests of their charity’.

Yet in her blog post on the topic Elizabeth Chamberlain, head of policy and public services at NCVO, has asked ‘are trustees to be discouraged from doing anything?’. Elizabeth highlights that the previous version hadn’t caused any problems and the legal principles underpinning charities and litigation remain unchanged. The blog post raises concern that the commission seem to be encouraging risk aversion and discouraging legal action even when it would be necessary and in the interests of beneficiaries.

Guidance for trustees on social invest power

The Charity Commission has also published guidance for trustees about the new social investment power that was introduced as the first phase of the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016 came into force.

In the news

As part of an interview with the Financial Times, William Shawcross has defended the Charity Commission saying that charity trustees, not the commission, should have been alert to fundraising, tax avoidance and mismanagement.

Shawcross argued that Trustees ought to have stepped in to prevent these problems and the Charity Commission had lacked the power to force them to do so. He also said the commission was ‘sympathetic’ to paid trusteeship but that it wasn’t suitable for all and that ‘it might be seen to be going against the spirit of volunteerism’.

Best of the blogs

Following last month’s findings on public trust and confidence the commission has published a series of blogs on the topic:

In the first blog post, Jane Hobson, head of policy, outlines the tools the public can use to find out more about a charity when deciding whether or not to offer support.

In the next blog post in the series, Jane explores how reporting and accountability practice can be improved to encourage public confidence.

In the latest blog post, Neal Green, senior policy officer, discusses areas in which he feels the commission can engage to get the message out about trustee roles, responsibilities and importantly, leadership duties.

Upcoming training and events

ICSA Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016 Conference – 8 September 2016

The ICSA are running a conference in September which targets key areas of the new Charities Act including: charities’ powers to make social investments; how to embed further controls on fundraising; the expansion of disqualification criteria for trustees.

We are pleased to announce that NCVO members are entitled to an exclusive 20% discount if they book within the next two weeks. Obtain your discount by entering the code NCVO20 when registering.

Charity trustees: Induction and refresher training – 12 September 2016

Charity trustees: Induction and refresher training – 17 November 2016

NCVO’s governance forum (forum members only) – 10 October 2016

The high performance board – 17 October 2016

NCVO Trustee Conference – 7 November 2016

Trustee Conference early bird discount reminder

A reminder that the early bird discount for the NCVO Trustee Conference ends on 9 September.

For more regular updates follow me @mynameisdanfran or @NCVO on Twitter.


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Dan is responsible for NCVO’s governance consultancy offer, focusing on governance reviews, board performance and trustee training. He joined NCVO from the National Union of Students (NUS) where, as a long standing consultant, he supported the organisational development of local students’ unions as charities.

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