Governance round-up: January 2017

Launch of major research into trustee support

This week we have launched an exciting piece of research as part of the Trustee Awareness Project. Working with The Cranfield Trust, CASS and the Charity Commission we are exploring how trustees understand their roles and where they can access support.

If you or your organisation provides support to trustees in any form and on any subject then we want to hear from you. The survey will take around 15 minutes to complete and will be available until the end of February.

We hope that by publishing this research, more charities will be able to find support appropriate to their board and that organisations providing information, advice and training will be able to tailor their services effectively and target potential gaps.

Governance Code – last opportunity to feed into the consultation

The online consultation on the new Charity Governance Code is closing on 4 February, so this week is the final opportunity to feed in your thoughts on how this new draft can be improved.

In addition to the survey we have also arranged some events which offer the opportunity for you to meet with colleagues, discuss the code, and contribute to the consultation. We held one of these meetings in London at the end of last year and the feedback was really helpful in developing our thinking on the code. There are three more meetings coming up which you can join:

Following the close of the consultation next month I will be meeting with the code’s steering group to work through responses and understand how the consultation document needs to change, and I’ll be sure to keep you updated on the emerging themes through these monthly governance round-ups.

New website: How Charities Work

NCVO has launched a new website: This site is intended as a resource for members of the public who have questions about charities, and is designed to provide clear and accessible information for a non-specialist audience.

The website explains how charities raise and spend money, how they are regulated and has a section dedicated to explaining the role of trustees. The site has been launched as a test version to get feedback and ideas from the voluntary sector before it is promoted more widely to the public. Please have a look and give us any feedback.

From the commission

The Charity Commission has launched a consultation on the annual return, as part of a two-year project to review the information they collect and display from charities.

The commission says it is not consulting on any changes to the number of questions or the detailed financial information collected in the annual return, simply the way questions are asked.

In particular, questions are asked about whether:

  • charities should keep the fundamental information up to date more regularly that annually
  • questions should be focussed to match the commission’s strategic priorities and targeted at the relevant charities
  • the regulatory burden can be lifted by making sure the annual return is more targeted and proportionate.

At NCVO we will be publishing our response to this shortly, and I’ll be sure to share this through this monthly governance round-up.

In the press

Setting senior staff pay

Toby Porter, chief executive of Acorns Children’s Hospice Trust, has written an opinion piece for the Guardian on the recent coverage of charity salaries. Toby’s view is that boards need to consider two questions when setting CEO pay:

  1. How will the reputation of our charity and credibility of our mission be impacted?
  2. How do we raise our funds, and what do we say to the people we raise them from?

I agree that it’s not enough to just offer a robust defence of a particular salary, based on the skills and experiences needed. Instead we need to also be transparent about the link between pay and the aims and values of the charity. If you are interested in this topic you can read NCVO’s recommendations on setting senior staff pay.

The diversity issue

Governance and Leadership magazine’s January edition is dedicated to developing board diversity. The edition is well worth a read as it offers some practical guidance on strategies for developing a more diverse board, an area emphasised in the new draft code of governance.

Upcoming NCVO training and events


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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