Governance round-up: December 2017

Charity governance in 2017

It’s hard to believe that we are in December and that this is my last round up of 2017. It has been a very busy year in the world of charity governance. Over the past 12 months I have explored a range of topics in this blog such as board recruitment, apply or explain the code, shadow trusteeships and unitary boards. But if I had to pick out my top three governance related events of the year I’d say:

Thanks for reading and I’ll be back in the new year with lot more updates!

NCVO governance podcast

With everything that was happening around Trustees Week, you may have missed that last month we released a new podcast focused on good charity governance. In it, we’re particularly keen to explore how smaller charities with limited budgets could meet the increasing expectations around governance.

On the podcast:

  • we speak with Baroness Pitkeathley, chair of the recent House of Lords select committee on charities, to find out why politicians are paying such close attention to the way charities operate at the moment
  • I introduce new Charity Governance Code that was launched in July, and the ways that the cross-sector working group kept the needs of small charities at the forefront when designing the code
  • Sarah O’Grady, an associate consultant at NCVO, joined us to take a look at some of the most common governance queries that our smaller members seek advice about.

This focus on how smaller organisations can develop and improve their governance in line with the new Code is something we will doing more on in the new year. It is also worth highlighting that in addition to this podcast, NCVO has a whole range of guidance available on our Knowhow Nonprofit site, alongside online trustee training and templates in our board basics section, all of which are free to NCVO members. You can also learn more about how quality standards can improve governance.

NCVO response to Annual Return consultation

My colleague Douglas Dowell has explained the most contentious issues we raised through the Charity Commission’s consultation on the Annual Return 2018 including: senior staff pay, overseas expenditure, central and local government income and gift aid, safeguarding, and overseas income. The consultation closed at the end of last month and the commission are now analysing the results. We will bring you an update when we hear more.

From the Commission

Charitable companies CIO conversion

The Charity Commission has announced a phased timetable allowing charitable companies to convert to charitable incorporated organisations (CIOs) following legislative changes in parliament on 23 November 2017. Watch this space as we will be developing our own guidance on the process.

Safeguarding is a key governance priority

The Charity Commission’s new safeguarding strategy says that safeguarding is a key governance priority for all charities, not just those working with groups traditionally considered at risk. The strategy explains that trustees should ensure their charity provides a safe environment for staff, volunteers, and anyone who comes into contact with it.

Board diversity and shadow trusteeship key topics at NCVO’s Annual Conference

Registration is open for NCVO’s Annual Conference. Alongside a range of exciting keynotes and sessions we have again prioritised governance. In particular, we will focus on diversity and shadow trusteeship as key topics for the conference.

  • Diversity at board level, incorporating the joint challenge of recruitment and retention of new trustees, is an issue which has been highlighted by the publication of the new Taken on Trust research which highlighted the issue of board level diversity and the Charity Governance Code which prioritised diversity as a principle. The session will offer an opportunity to explore what more boards can do to address this issue.
  • Shadow trustees is a topic which has once again found its way into the spotlight. This is given the insolvency case against the former trustees and CEO at Kids Company. Regular readers will recall that in my round up in September I explored this issue in more depth.

Upcoming training and events

Dan Francis is NCVO’s senior governance consultant. For more regular updates follow @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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