New toolkit to support the smallest of charities adopt the Charity Governance Code

The latest iteration of the Charity Governance Code (the Code) was launched in the summer of 2017. It provides charities with a clear set of principles and practice for high performance in governance. It is aspirational, stretching and is intended to support continual improvement.

The Code is published in two versions, to cater to larger and smaller charities. The version a charity uses depends on a range of factors. In general, we recommend that charities with an income of over £1m a year use the larger version and charities below this threshold use the smaller version.

As a charity, we owe it to our beneficiaries, stakeholders and supporters to demonstrate exemplary governance. With this in mind, when developing the Code with our steering group partners, we were absolutely committed to creating something highly practical – which could be applied in many different contexts. The feedback we have received alongside evidence from research, such as the RSM report into the Codes’ use, tell us that those adopting the Code find it to be helpful for improving governance.

Smaller charities using the code

Despite the Code’s positive reception in the sector, smaller charities question whether it fits in with their organisation. When speaking with the trustees of NCVO’s smallest of members, there is a sense that it’s a framework for larger organisations with staff infrastructure to support its implementation.

Trustees of entirely voluntary charities with modest budgets have told me that, whilst they subscribe to the principles in the Code, they feel that the detailed practice does not apply neatly in their context. More often than they would like, they find themselves having to justify why they are not going to implement the recommended practice. Others have shared candidly that, alongside everything else they do as a board and volunteer, they find it hard to know where to start without the support of paid staff.

New toolkit for the smallest of charities

We want the code to be something which can be used by every charity, regardless of size or resource. We have listened to this feedback and are pleased to announce the launch of a new toolkit as part of Small Charity Week. This toolkit is designed to support micro and small charities implement the Code’s principles.

The toolkit links directly to the Charity Governance Code. It uses the same principles but describes the kind of practice a micro organisation should aspire to implement. There are also links to lots of free tools and resources which can be used and adapted to implement the principles. Our hope is that this will make the jobs of the dedicated and committed trustees of the smallest charities easier. We are pleased to have received endorsement and support for the tool from our partners on the Code’s steering group and it’s chair, Rosie Chapman.

This toolkit is distinct from the small version of the Code. As a rule of thumb, this tool is intended for use by charities with an income of less than £100,000 per year with no paid staff.

You are able to download the free toolkit here.

NCVO membership is free to any organisation with an income of less than £30,000.

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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