Governance round-up: April 2019

Almost half of larger charities have adopted the Charity Governance Code

The accountancy firm, RSM, have undertaken the first research into the adoption of the Charity Governance Code. The report studied the annual reports of 85 charities with income above five million and has found that just under half have adopted the code. The research found that charities with an income between £10m–20m scored the lowest in terms of implementing the codes principles’ and that the diversity principle was the lowest scoring overall.

Nick Sladden, who is head of charities and independent schools at RSM, mentioned that the correlation between adopting the code and the demonstration of good governance practice is pretty clear and speaks to the usefulness of the code.

Tania Mason has written an overview of the findings in civil society and identifies several other key findings:

  • Nine charities in the sample failed to report anything about their charity’s policy on executive pay
  • Only one charity in the sample failed to include any mention of risk in their report
  • One-fifth of the charities sampled had trustees in post that had served for longer than the nine years recommended by the code
  • 70% of the sample failed to outline a board effectiveness review process.

In the news

Commission exercises disqualification powers after a five year investigation

In 2014, the Commission opened a statutory inquiry to investigate regulatory concerns arising from a cash seizure of charitable funds conducted by the police, after two trustees were stopped at Heathrow airport carrying over £10,000 of charitable funds in cash. After five years the commission has now concluded its investigation and that trustees at the now defunct charity were guilty of misconduct and mismanagement. One trustee was automatically disqualified as a result of regulatory action after another statutory inquiry. Two other trustees were removed from their posts.

Investigation into fraud at RSPCA branch

The police and the Charity Commission are looking into an allegation of fraud potentially involving hundreds of thousands of pounds at the London South East branch of the RSPCA. The Commission has instructed trustees to complete their investigation and says it will then review.

President of NCT resigns accusing a drift from core purpose

The president of the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) has resigned over a management dispute stating: ‘It is clear that the executive team, with the support of most of the board, have already taken the charity away from our core mission of birth and breastfeeding, and towards more generic “parent support” with an emphasis on mental health.’

Students’ union recruiting trustees

‘Organisations with an engaged membership and a majority of the board under the age of 25’ might not be how you would describe all charities, but student unions are just that. A group of unions have come together to establish the website: Now Give Something Back. It’s worth checking out if you are interested in a trusteeship and the model of joint recruitment is something which other federations or sub-sectors might like to adopt.

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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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