Governance round-up: December 2018

A year in Charity Governance

This is my last round up of the year. In 2018 governance has continued as a priority for charities. Although high profile issues have rightly focused the attention of trustees, there is also a widespread recognition that good governance is fundamental to a charity’s success; that a culture of continual improvement and regular governance review mean that charities are better placed to tackle challenges and achieve their objectives.

Over the past 12 months I have explored a range of high profile governance topics in this blog including, Baroness Tina Stowell’s first speech as Charity Commission chair, practical tips and guidance of safeguarding for trustees, Serious Incident Reporting, how the Charity Governance Code was getting on at one years old, and where to find support for small charity boards.

We are also pleased to have hosted guest bloggers who have focused on the critical issue of board diversity. In particular; Sophie Livingstone of Trustees Unlimited who shared tips on recruiting more diverse boards, Karen Lam of the Social Change Agency who outlined their work on young trusteeship and Alex Hendra from Inclusion London who discussed lived experience on boards.

Thanks for reading in 2018. I’ll be back in the new year with lots more updates!

Young trustee project

At NCVO we have been supporting the work of the Social Change Agency and the Blagrave Trust to explore the barriers and opportunities for young trustees. The project aims to take a systemic approach with young people and other critical stakeholders to build a movement of Young Trustees, who are under 26.

Young trusteeship is not common. Last year’s Taken on Trust research published by the Charity Commission revealed the average age of a trustee is 62, whilst 18-24 year-olds account for less than 0.5% of all charity trustees.

As part of the project the Social Change Agency are interested in your opinions and experience of the journey you took to become a trustee. It doesn’t matter if you are under 26 or over, your opinion will help them understand the experience of trusteeship from an individual perspective and inform future project work.

As part of the steering group for this project we will keep you updated on progress from this work. For now though a little plea; if you are a current or former trustee of a registered charity in England or Wales complete this short survey to tell the Social Change Agency about your experiences.

Charity Governance Awards

This is a reminder that you have just over a month to submit your application to the Charity Governance Awards. There are seven categories covering every kind of charitable organisation. Shortlisted charities will be invited to an exclusive Awards Ceremony and Reception where the winners will be announce. The winning charity in each category will receive £5,000.

From the commission

Think tank impartiality

The Charity Commission has issued a regulatory alert to think tanks after calling into question the political neutrality of some activities over the past year. The commission has issued two think tanks to remove reports it described as breaching political impartiality and failing to be sufficiently balanced.

The new regulatory alert reminds trustees of think tanks that campaigning activity “must further or support the charity’s objects and must not be party political”. It says they must be careful that the think tank “not support, or appear to support, a political party”.

The law firm BWB however have challenged elements of the Charity Commission’s alert suggesting it places “undue emphasis” on ensuring a think tank’s outputs, such as reports and seminars are balanced and neutral. The firm goes on to say that educational research will inevitably reach conclusions and the research would often be of limited value if that was not the case.

Gift voucher fraud

The commission have also issued an alert which provides information and advice to charity trustees, employees and volunteers to help prevent fraud at Christmas time. It focuses on fake requests for vouchers.


Reminder: New NCVO governance wheel diagnostic

This a reminder, in case you missed it in last month’s round up, that we have launched a revamped version of our governance wheel diagnostic tool for trustee boards. This new version links to the new Charity Governance Code published last year. Don’t miss out on this simple and easy to use tool.

PQASSO name change

The PQASSO quality standard has been renamed Trusted CharityRead more about this change and why we have made it.


You might also be interested in our Introduction to Trusted Charity Quality Mark courses.


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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