Governance round-up: September 2016

Five major risks all charity board members need to think about

Jonathan Orchard and Kate Sayer have written in an overview of the major types of risk all charity boards should consider. I particularly like their view that simply preparing a register of all the things that may present risk, doesn’t mean that the board is properly managing risk. Instead risk registers should be seen in context and it is not about avoiding or minimising all risk, it’s also about deciding which risks to take.

NCVO has recently developed a new risk register tool, available free to all members, but as the article says it’s of course only valuable when these documents are used as the basis for discussion in the boardroom.

Charity trustees can suffer from ‘dysfunctional politeness’

In an interview with Civil Society Ruth Lesirge, chair of the Association of Chairs, said that some trustees are reluctant to challenge other trustees for fear of being seen as aggressive, disruptive or be asking the ‘stupid question’. Ruth’s concern is that this can lead to a lack of scrutiny and poor decision making practice. Instead Ruth makes the case that chairs need to ‘enable people to be able to ask the idiot question’.

New guide for communications professionals and the board

CharityComms has published a new guide to help improve the relationship between charity communications professionals and the board. The guide is very practical and highlights how good communication can mitigate risk and strengthen a charities reputation. I agree when CharityComms argue that ‘comms engagement at the highest level, and at every discussion about risk and reputation, could hardly be more compelling’.

Building boards for a digital age

Trustee boards need to be able to understand the big opportunities that digital offers, the dangers of not exploring it and make informed decisions about its risks – but most boards lack the expertise to do this. Reach Volunteering is teaming up with NCVO and other key partners to bring you useful resources, information and most crucially, help you recruit trustees with digital expertise.

Do you want to know more about how digital trustees can help you thrive? Register for updates from the campaign and free resources at building boards for a digital age.

And don’t forget that NCVO has a range of ways to help you recruit trustees, including Trustee Bank (free to NCVO members) and Trustees Unlimited. NCVO members with an annual income under £1m can also register to recruit a high calibre trustee from major corporates including Google and Barclays through our Step on Board programme.

In the news

The Prime Minister has announced that she would like a consultation on guidance for schools on charitable status, the Prime Minister said that ‘through their charitable status, private schools collectively reduce their tax bills by millions every year. And I want to consult on how we can amend Charity Commission guidance for independent schools to enact a tougher test on the amount of public benefit required to maintain charitable status.’

The Charity Commission last amended its guidance in 2013 following a legal challenge by the Independent Schools Council.

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


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Avatar photo 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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