Governance round-up: April 2018

New Charity Commission chair’s speech at NCVO’s Annual Conference

On Monday 16 April we held our Annual Conference. This year’s fully booked conference focused on supporting organisations to make a bigger difference. It’s no surprise that governance and leadership featured as key themes throughout the day, this included a state of the sector address from our CEO Sir Stuart Etherington and the first official speech from the Baroness Tina Stowell, the Charity Commission’s new chair.

In his address Stuart picked up on the importance of leading by example. Referencing issues such as chief executive pay, fundraising and now safeguarding as times when the sector has proactively sought to address public concerns through self-regulation and review. Stuart pointed toward the importance of senior managers and boards showing leadership in these areas, not because they are required to do so, but because it is the right thing to do. Stuart argued that increased transparency and accountability provides a long-term opportunity to the sector to build greater trust.

Baroness Stowell gave her first substantial speech since taking over the role of Charity Commission chair from William Shawcross. In the keynote address she recognised the significant contribution the sector makes but highlighted the importance of building trust in charities. Tina emphasised her view that the Commission has a role to both make clear public expectations of charities and support organisations to meet this. Tina made clear that the Commission was developing its new strategic plan to be published in the summer, however she stopped short of giving a view on the issue of commission charging, saying instead she wanted the regulator to establish what they wanted to do first.

Other sessions across the day discussed the importance of diversity in governance and the issue of Shadow Trustees for the highlights why not check out the hashtag #NCVOconf or download the slides here.

NCVO launches new safeguarding course

The high profile stories in the first quarter of this year placed governance, safeguarding and assurance firmly in the spotlight. Serving as a reminder of the importance of having strong protections in place for those who work and volunteer in and for our organisations.

At NCVO we have launched a new course designed specifically to support organisations in delivering robust safeguarding practice. All voluntary organisations have a duty to keep the people they work with safe from harm. Yet, the field of safeguarding can feel ever more complex with different frameworks for children and adults, and with increasing public scrutiny and recent awareness of risks such as abuse, exploitation, historical allegations and radicalisation. This new course introduces the basics of safeguarding within a volunteer manager’s role and highlights effective safeguarding practice.

Our trusted supplier SAFEcic also has a new online course Safeguarding for Trustees and NCVO members can get a discount when accessing this.

In the news…

Best-known charities hold an average four months of reserves

Examination by Third Sector of the accounts of 157 top charities finds the mean reserve level is £23.3m. Analysis has found, the most prominent UK charities in the sector hold an average of almost four months’ expenditure in reserves. NCVO’s Almanac data says that the average amount of reserves held by operating charities (that is excluding grant-making foundations with large assets) was around six months. Including grant makers, it was around 14 months. The Charity Commission has detailed guidance for organisations on how to establish a reserves policy which is right for your organisation.

An analysis of the gender pay gap in charities

David Kane, has undertaken some sectorial analysis of the gender pay gap for charities. The data shows that the average gender pay gap for all organisations is 14.5%, and for charities it is favourable at 8%. Dave identified that the majority of charities’ employees are women, and this majority is kept across all salary bands. Yet there is, however, still a difference in the proportion – 71% of the lowest-paid employees of large charities are women.

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 Francis 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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