Governance round-up: October 2016

A new code of good governance

Over the summer I have been working with the code of good governance steering group to review and update the document, which is widely recognised and used in the sector. It’s almost seven years since the last edition, and I don’t need to tell readers of this governance round-up, that a lot has changed in that time!

Boards are under increased scrutiny, there is a new Essential Trustee guidance publication, there have been significant changes to charity law, and a new fundraising regulator; to name a few of the shifts in the world of charity governance.

The steering group has been led by an independent chair Rosie Chapman and is comprised of NCVO, ACEVO, the Association of Chairs, ICSA: The Governance Institute, the Small Charites Coalition, WCVA, and the Charity Commission as an observer. It’s been a fascinating process and our group discussions over the past few months have involved healthy debate and discussion over the form of a new code.

Our approach

We are clear that this revision is not a response to a small number of cases of bad practice – but rather a positive contribution to strengthening governance based on our understanding and relationship with charities. We want to support trustees and set out to create a practical and accessible code.

Key changes

For those who have used previous versions, at first glance, the proposed new code may seem familiar. However, there are some fundamental changes:

  • The code has been renamed to be explicitly for charities, providing clarity and focus.
  • We have included a greater emphasis on strategy development and been clear that culture, behaviours and values are an important aspect of leadership.
  • We have highlighted that the board is responsible for public confidence and trust in the charity and that openness should be central to the way a board operates.
  • I am also personally pleased that we have included the principle that a board’s diversity, in the widest sense, supports effective leadership and decision-making.

Publishing the draft for consultation

The steering group will be launching a consultation during Trustees’ Week in November, running until January. As part of this consultation we want to encourage discussion and debate about what standard of governance charities should aim for. I have invited Rosie Chapman, the steering group’s chair to write a blog post outlining these changes in more depth once the consultation has launched, so look out for that and be sure to contribute to the consultation once it’s launched in November.

Trustees’ Week is coming – 7-11 November

There are leaves on the ground, the nights are drawing, autumn is here; and that means Trustees’ Week is just around the corner! This year’s theme is ‘stronger charities through good leadership’ and there’s an array of activities planned which champion boards and support trustees to effectively lead their organisations.

At NCVO we are planning an exciting programme of activity designed to support good governance and effective boards. We’ll be kicking off the week with our Trustee Conference, featuring an impressive range of speakers and sessions. We are also making some of our resources, such as online training, free for the week and will be offering some exclusive Trustees’ Week discounts on publications and training. My next governance round-up will be a Trustees’ Week special and contain all of the details.

A practical guide on charity fundraising

Earlier this month the Institute of Fundraising published ‘Trustees and Fundraising: a practical handbook’ which has been produced jointly with Charity Finance Group, ACEVO and NCVO. The guide is presented in an accessible format but doesn’t shy away from the complex territory that is charity fundraising. It’s designed to be a one-stop shop for all trustees, to help navigate the new regulatory environment and is well worth a read.

News and opinion

Civil Society has reported on plans for an ambitious awareness campaign for trustees. This exciting project will begin with three pieces of detailed research which can then inform the approach to a public facing campaign with two primary aims: that every trustee will have a full and clear understanding of their duties and responsibilities, and that every trustee knows where to find advice and information to support them in their role.

Max du Bois has written in Third Sector about the importance of getting values right and being bold. Sharing the findings from research carried out with 50 charities, Max calls on charities to ‘stand for something, cause a reaction, get past the obvious and taken for granted, remember who you represent and find something genuine’.

From the commission

Shiny new SORP templates

The commission has updated its SORP templates for smaller non-company charities using FRS102.

Questions about digital

The Charity Commission, Grant Thornton and Zoe Amar Communications have together launched 12 Questions about digital for trustees, a new resource intended to help trustees exploit digital for their charity.

As my colleague Karl Wilding has discussed in previous blog posts, getting to grips with digital, and providing trustees with digital expertise is understandably a priority for many organisation. The guide contains examples of key questions that every board should be considering when approaching digital. If you find this interesting you may like to read Governance and Leadership’s article on the same topic.

As part of Trustees’ Week you may want to share the commission’s upcoming webinar with your trustees. It’s titled, ‘What should every trustee know? Q&A with Sarah Atkinson, Charity Commission’

Upcoming NCVO training and events

  • Trustees’ Week – 7-13 November 2016
  • NCVO Trustee Conference – 7 November 2016
  • Charity trustees: Induction and refresher – 12 December 2016
  • Supporting good governance: Effective board servicing and governance administration – 27 January 2017
  • Charity trustees: Induction and refresher – 13 January 2017

Our colleagues from ACEVO have also kindly extended the invite to NCVO member to attend their free upcoming Charity Futures event, 22 November 2016. This will explore the issue of trust and confidence through panel discussion and workshop.


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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