Governance round-up: June 2021

Charity chief executive pay

At the beginning of the month, the Telegraph published an analysis highlighting over 270 charities pay their staff ‘more than the prime minister’. Yet, our interim chief executive at NCVO, Sarah Vibert, highlighted in response, in a Civil Society article, that senior staff in charities tend to earn substantially less than their counterparts in equivalently sized private or public organisations.

In light of the Telegraph’s findings, Rob Wilson, who was minister for civil society between 2014 and 2017, has called for greater transparency. Wilson has argued there should be amended legislation to make salary disclosure compulsory on charities’ websites and annual reports if they have an annual income of over £500,000.

In 2014, we undertook an enquiry into senior staff pay. This made a range of detailed recommendations on how charities can make sure they have a clear process for working out a fair salary and are transparent about the reasons behind these decisions. We also called on charities to publish the exact salary of their chief executive and full details of senior staff salaries on their websites no more than two clicks away from the homepage.

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In the news

Bill the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation board structure change

The Financial Times has reported that Bill the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a US registered organisation, which has distributed $55bn since its launch in 2000, plans to change its current governance structure. It takes an interesting read to reflect on how the charity and its governance will respond to the co-chairs’ divorce.

The foundation differs from many similar organisations by having no independent directors. Instead, it has been governed by just three trustees:

  • Gates
  • French Gates
  • Warren Buffett

This structure clearly limits the independence of the board and centralises power and decision-making. For these reasons, it would not align with the practice set out in the Charity Governance Code for English and Welsh charities that recommend at least five trustees.

Mark Suzman, the foundation’s chief executive, has said that to ‘strengthen the long-term sustainability given the co-chairs’ divorce’, he’s in discussion about changing the charities governance model.

Job opportunity: Governance consultant

Do you share our belief that good governance is fundamental to a charity’s success?

At NCVO, we run our consultancy and training services as a social business. We provide cost-effective and high-quality support focused on the areas which matter most to charities. Our work generates income and valuable insights to support us in achieving our mission.

Our business is growing, and we are looking for a passionate and innovative team player to help us provide expert governance support to charities across England.

Salary: £36,237 per annum, rising to £38,145 after 12 months in London (or £32,628 per annum rising to £34,533 after 12 months outside of London).

Closing date: Midday 4 July 2021

If you’re interested, find out more about the governance consultant role on our website.

Training and events

Dan Francis is NCVO’s lead governance consultant. 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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