Governance round-up: May 2022

Keeping governance knowledge up-to-date

It’s been a busy few months at NCVO, as we’ve been working to make sure that our help and guidance is updated. We have a wide range of articles including lots of information specifically for trustees and people involved in governance. As part of our update, we asked trustees which areas they would like to see covered, and we’re creating brand new content on areas such as trustee recruitment, making good decisions, and holding challenging conversations.

We’ve also made sure that our pages on legal responsibilities for trustees and introductions to governance concepts are accurate and include everything you need to know, featuring case studies and top tips.

Supporting your board

Leading an organisation as a trustee is an important role, and to help our trustees be effective we need the best possible support in place. Whether you’re a voluntary board secretary, professional governance administrator, or someone who has just been tasked with board support, this is the course for you.

Across four sessions, our brand-new course in supporting good governance will take you through all the key elements of board support. We will cover the facts and legislation, the practices and structures you can use, and the skills you need to build as you help your board succeed. We’ll also include time for networking with other governance colleagues, and plenty of templates and frameworks for you to take away.

Trustees and ethical investment

The High Court has decided that charity trustees can choose to invest ethically in a landmark judgement at the end of April. The case was brought forward by trustees of the Ashden Trust and the Mark Leonard Trust, who asked the court to give them clear guidance about making decisions on investment with environmental protection in mind.

The charities felt that existing guidance from the Charity Commission did not make it clear whether the decision was within their powers as trustees, as it focussed on the idea of maximising return on investment. The trustees of the charities were concerned that their decision to only invest with organisations meeting the goals of the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement might cause financial detriment, and therefore might be against the guidance.

The High Court ruling clarifies that the guidance does not stop trustees from investing in a way that they deem to be ethical, as long as the investment still furthers the charity’s purposes. If the trustees consider all options and set out a reasonable and proportionate investment policy, the High Court feels they will have met their duties.

The Charity Commission will be providing updated guidance in this area.

Tackling the cost of living crisis

With inflation expected to peak around 10% in 2022, the cost of living is a major concern for charities and communities alike. We are therefore asking charity leaders and trustees to complete a two-question survey before 24 June, to help us understand your concerns and how you’re managing the impact of inflation.

We also invite you to book your free place at our online event for NCVO members on Wednesday 15 June. Focused on rising costs – specifically, energy, fuel, food and other goods, and wages. This event is your opportunity to share insights with other charity leaders to improve your knowledge while also informing our policy and advocacy work on behalf of the voluntary sector. Guest speakers will share case studies and ideas around adapting to meet these challenges so that you can continue to provide support to those who need it.

In the news

Power & Integrity launch

The Charity Governance Code asks trustees to consider power within your organisation. As part of our work to understand how power impacts charities, we’re incubating a new project, Power & Integrity. If you’re interested in this work, you can join a PI Power Lab and be part of the journey.

Queen’s speech

This year’s speech for the opening of parliament included important messages for charities and trustees. The speech covered a range of new legislation and changes including changes to national human rights laws. My colleague Chris summarises the key points in his Queen’s speech blog.

Charity Commission chair inaugural speech

Orlando Fraser made his inaugural speech earlier this month. He spoke about the importance of trustees and his aims to lead an excellent, data-informed, and effective regulator. You can read his speaker notes on the government website.

Training and events

Sally Stephens is an NCVO governance consultant. For more regular updates follow @Sally_Steph or @NCVO on Twitter.

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Sally works with charities to provide governance advice and board reviews, as well as delivering training on trusteeship and board effectiveness. She previously worked in an in-house governance support role, leading on board development and strategy.

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