Governance round-up: July 2020

Update on Charity Governance Code refresh

When the Code steering group published the latest version of the Charity Governance Code in 2017 we made a commitment to continually improve the Code. Understanding of what good governance is changes, as do the expectations of the sector’s various stakeholders. Given this we ran a public consultation earlier in the year exploring areas users felt the code could be enhanced.

Charity governance code webinar

In August we intend to publish a full report detailing our findings and we will be hosting a webinar to explore the details and possible changes. Join us on 12 August to hear more.

Publishing a refreshed code

Our plans to publish a new refreshed version of the code were delayed due to the pandemic. We are now hoping that the steering group can reflect on the findings from the consultation and develop changes to the practice in time for a revised version to be launched before the end of the year. This would mean we are keeping to our commitment to refresh the code every three years and ensure the feedback we received is reflected in the update.

Governance Forum

Due to the coronavirus pandemic we have not held a Charity Governance Forum for a while. However, we recognise the Forum which is intended to offer peer support, learning and the sharing of good practice for charity governance professionals, is needed now more than ever. As such we are hosting a meeting via Zoom in August where we will:

  • examine and share challenges of effective governance in a pandemic
  • consider changes to the law and regulation as a result of the corporate governance and insolvency bill 2020
  • receive an update from the Charity Commission on how they have responded
  • receive an update on, and feed into, the refresh of the Charity Governance Code.

We have reduced the cost of this Forum to reflect the fact it is an online meeting, but to ensure we are still able to cover the costs associated with running the event there remains a small fee of £25. Professionals working in charity governance are encouraged to register though our website.

Staff wellbeing

My colleague Rupinder Dhaliwal, has written some advice on how to support wellbeing during the pandemic. Her blog offers a steer to charity leaders and trustees on the key things to think about when supporting staff and volunteers. Rupinder explores:

  • compassionate leadership
  • understanding how employees are affected and sources of support
  • creating new ways of working and flexibility
  • reviewing organisational policies.

From the Commission

The Charity Commission has published its annual report for 2019-2020. In publishing the report the Commission’s Chief Executive Helen Stephenson CBE praised the work of charities offering vital support in responding to coronavirus.

For trustees interested in charity regulation the report offers useful insight into the approach and priorities of the Commission. Some of the achievements the Commission highlight include the following.

  • Having made it easier for charities and the public to engage with the Commission through an overhauled contact centre
  • Efficiency and speed of regulatory work, saying that all regulatory work is responded to within five working days and that they concluded 6,246 regulatory action cases in the last year
  • On average the Commission says that only 60% of applications for new charities resulted in successful registrations of new charities and that over 6,000 charities were removed from the register
  • They also say that they have improved online guidance in response to covid-19

Trustee training

I am pleased to say we have reintroduced our trustee training, which will now be delivered via Zoom. To browse our governance courses and other sessions visit our training pages.

Webinar: Decision making in a crisis – collaboration and merger

On 20 August we will be hosting a free webinar in partnership with Bates Wells. Many charities are facing financial uncertainty and many senior leaders will be considering collaboration and merger to ensure their sustainability. In this webinar we aim to answer questions such as:

  • when should a charity in crisis consider merging?
  • what are the alternatives?
  • how can you make the best decision for your organisation?

Visit our training pages for more information and to register.


Dan Francis is NCVO’s lead 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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