Governance round-up: September 2019

Brexit planning

There is still a great deal of uncertainty around Brexit and the manner of the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU). It is unclear what kind of Brexit we can expect. Given the uncertainty and increased risk of no deal planning is essential.

NCVO has been clear about the dangers a no-deal Brexit poses to charities and their work. Although many charities have already produced detailed plans which counter some of these risks, we know this will not be the case for all organisations. We strongly advise that boards take stock and consider how Brexit could impact on their work.

This planning needs to be led by trustees in partnership with staff and volunteers. The implications of potential scenarios are likely to be wide ranging. There is value in mapping various potential scenarios and associated risks before considering how to address them. Trustees can draw on our guidance which details the potential implications for charities of a no deal.

It’s advisable to do this planning as soon as possible and before the current Brexit deadline of 31 October.  Below I detail some useful resources and further reading:

NCVO governance innovation fund open for applications

In my last round up I shared our new Winifred Tumim Memorial Fund for innovation in charity governance which offers a grant of £1000 for work which supports innovation in good governance.

We are still welcoming entries from organisations and individuals. In making the grant, particular attention will be paid to how any output supports the adoption of the Charity Governance Code and uses new or innovation approaches to tackle common challenges. Find out more information on the criteria and how to apply here.

Election guidance

With expectations growing of a general election either this year or early next. The commission has reminded charities of their responsibilities and of their guidance around political activity.

The electoral commission has also updated its guidance for non-party campaigning. Which details the rules campaigners must follow on campaign spending, donations and reporting.

Trustees should consider these rules and guidance when planning campaigning activity during any election period.

NCVO/Bates Wells Trustee Conference 2019

We are building up to our Trustee Conference which takes place on 4 November to kickstart Trustees Week. In addition to a wide range of sessions we are delighted to welcome some exciting and inspirational speakers including Kaneez Shaid (Chair, Citizens UK) who will talk about her experiences of leading a movement and what charities can learn from this.  We will also hear from Philip Kirkpatrick of Bates Wells and Sophie Livingstone of Trustees Unlimited about the future of charity governance and board diversity.

This is your opportunity to join 400 colleagues from across the sector at the leading annual event for trustees, chairs, honorary treasurers, chief executives and anyone who works with a governing board. I recently wrote a blog on my five hot picks for the event taking place on 4 November. Don’t miss out and book your place.

NVCO/Bates Wells Trustee Conference 2019

In the news and blogs


NCVO has a new CEO: Karl Wilding, after the retirement of Sir Stuart Etherington. Karl’s priorities over his first few weeks are going to be travelling around the country meeting with members and listening about what they would like to see from NCVO’s new strategy.

Response to the Oxfam inquiry

Andrew Hind the former CEO of the Charity Commission has writen An alternative perspective to the regulator’s inquiry report on Oxfam following the publication of the Commission’s investigation. Andrew suggests that the Commission has been ‘excessive and unfair’ in issuing an official warning. He says he is attempting to inject a sense of proportion into our understanding of what happened and the response.

From the Commission

Fraud Awareness

The Charity Commission is promoting International Charity Fraud Awareness Week which will take place between 21 and 25 October. This commission is keen engage charities in order to encourage and empower charities to talk about fraud and share best practice.

Annual returns

The Commission has posted a reminder about the new process for annual return submission which changed last November.

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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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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