Governance round-up: June 2019

New micro charity Governance Code tool

Last week was small charity week and so we have been excited to launch a new tool to support small charities to implement the Charity Governance Code. Trustees of entirely voluntary charities with modest budgets have told us that, whilst they subscribe to the principles in the Code, they feel that the detailed practice does not always apply neatly in their context.

At NCVO, we want the Code to be something which all of our members can use regardless of size or resource. 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.

Ireland’s Charity Governance Code

Ireland’s national association of community and voluntary organisations, The Wheel,  has written to stakeholders to notify them that their governance code steering group has made a decision. They have decided to retire the Governance Code for Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations (CVC Code). Instead, the group have endorsed the new Charities Governance Code for Ireland which was published by the Irish Charities Regulator in 2018. The Wheel says the new regulators code promotes a ‘standard for excellent practice in corporate governance for non-profit organisations’. The regulator will expect all charities to start reporting their compliance by 2021.

This is a very different approach from here in the UK. In England and Wales, the Charity Governance Code remains a voluntary code. Although it is not a regulatory document, it has been endorsed by the Charity Commission who withdrew their hallmarks on effective governance guidance.

Time to abolish the honorary Treasurer role?

Freelance chartered accountant, Hilary Seaward, has argued that the role of honorary treasurer should be abolished as it stops other trustees from taking on the collective responsibility for finance. This is an interesting argument as of course all trustees have a duty to scrutinise their charity’s finances and not rely on an individual trustee for this.

It is always useful to think about how you ensure a minimum level of financial understanding amongst all trustees. At NCVO we have developed online training module which is free to members. This is to help trustees understand charity finance. We also run a regular course on financial intelligence for trustees.

In the news

Charity Commission Oxfam inquiry

The Charity Commission has published it statutory inquiry report into Oxfam following a lengthy investigation prompted by the safeguarding issues raised in the Times news paper last year. The commission found that Oxfam GB’s culture and safeguarding procedures repeatedly fell below expectations. It had missed opportunities to address problems and was too concerned about its reputation. My colleague who is our Head of Policy, Elizabeth Chamberlain, has written a blog detailing the key lessons for trustees.

On the topic of culture and safeguarding, the Association of Chairs have also published a highly practical blog exploring The Chair’s role in building a positive working culture.

Sir Stuart Etherington has written to Helen Stephenson, Chief executive of the Charity Commission, accusing it of over-emphasising failures.

NCVO/BWB Trustee Conference Monday 4 November 2019

Registration for our annual trustees conference is now open. Join us as we explore what good governance looks like for modern charities, using the key principles of the Charity Governance Code. We will give you practical tips and guidance to help you develop in your role as a trustee and support your organisation’s governance to go from strength to strength. Book now for the early bird discount.

Training and Events

Governance training

Dan Francis is NCVO’s Lead consultant for governance. For more regular updates follow @mynameisdanfran or @NCVO on Twitter.

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Avatar photo 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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