Governance round-up: January 2021

New Charity Governance Code launched

Last month we, together with our Steering Group partners, published a new version of the Charity Governance Code. If you missed it I have blogged about the key changes in December.

Chaka Bachmann, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion consultant to the Code Steering Group, has also written in more detail about the importance of the revised Equality, Diversity and Inclusion principle and why it is so important to create a vision for change.

This refresh ensures that the Code remains relevant and also offers an exciting opportunity for trustees seeking to improve governance and implement best practice. You can find out more and download the Code on the Charity Governance Code website.

Power analysis

One of the key additions to the Code is the emphasis on boards recognising power imbalances and addressing these where they might be detrimental to the charity’s mission. Those interested in this work might like to read independent organisational ethics specialist Alex Cole-Hamilton’s thoughts on putting power analysis at the heart of governance in international non-government organisations (INGOs). We will be doing more work to explore how boards can practically ensure this is the case over the coming months.

From the Commission

  • Updated covid guidance: The Charity Commission has updated its covid guidance to reflect a further extension to the temporary rules on holding remote meetings and insolvency based on the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020. This means that all meetings can be held online until at least 30 March 2021. For more detail and advice on these and other areas visit the Commission website.
  • Pension deficit review: A review by the Commission has said that even where the risks associated with defined pension schemes are being well managed, charities did not always report the matter in enough detail in their annual accounts and trustees’ annual report.

NCVO Road Ahead

We have published our annual Road Ahead analysis which explores the changing operating environment for charities in 2020.

The full text provides a body of insight and evidence which boards can use to consider possible implications for their charities and context. In previous years I have suggested setting aside time on a board agenda to consider the various political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal considerations set out here.

  • Which areas are most relevant to your context?
  • How might these impact your strategy?
  • What do you need to do differently as a result of this environment?

The section on good governance in bad times explores the challenges of governing remotely, the implications for building board relationships online and the toll which the many difficult decisions boards have had to make over the past nine months has had on trustees.

Reminder: Charity Governance Awards 2021

This is the final week for nominations to Charity Governance Awards 2021, the UK awards that recognise and reward charities achieving great governance. Organised by The Clothworkers’ Company alongside Prospectus and Reach Volunteering the awards are a real celebration of good governance and an opportunity to showcase excellent practice. Make sure you get yours in!

For 2021, the Charity Governance Awards will recognise inspirational success stories of charity boards responding to the covid-19 crisis from the frontline of the pandemic with a new category, ‘Covid-19: Embracing Opportunity and Harnessing Risk’.

Find out more about the 2021 awards and get inspired by the stories of past winners here.

Training and events

  • Online trustee training: NCVO run regular online trustee inductions and refresher courses over two half days.
  • E-learning induction for trustees: In November 2020 we launched our new e-learning module for trustees. This offers trustees a low cost introduction to their roles.
  • Governance Forum: We will be running the next Governance Forum for Charity Governance professionals in March 2021 registration details will be included in my February round-up.


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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