Governance Weekly for 15th June

The weekly roundup from VANEL on good governance, charity trusteeship and non-profit leadership. News, information, resources and ideas. Complemented by our monthly “View from the Top” e-newsletter (Trustee Network members only), our “aboutgovernance” online discussion space for leaders and trustees and our @aboutgovernance Twitter feed.

External factors are always something that boards and trustees should be looking out for, monitoring and planning to react to. And there’s not much bigger than a general election. I’m sure everyone has their own views on the recent snap election and its outcome, but what is the impact on your charity/organisation and its working environment likely to be? and how are you and your board planning in advance to react and mitigate risks that might arise from it? Worth spending some time as a board considering the issue I would think. To start you off, here are a couple of key responses from the sector on the election:

From the NCVO blog
From the ACEVO blog
From Civil Society blog

As well as everything else, Rob Wilson, the Minster for Civil Society since 2014 has been replaced, and very little emphasis was put on Charities in any of the key manifestos, so we’ll have to keep an eye on what direction the powers on high think they need to guide our sector in. Even the appointment of Rob Wilson’s replacement has been confusing. John Glen was first confirmed as the new Minister for Civil Society, only for that confirmation to be retracted. It looks like the new minister will be Tracey Crouch. Let’s hope that some clarity, stability and support for the sector will become evident over the coming months.

Worth a read: “Charities must put those we help on the board of trustees“, an article from Guardian. This is a very strong reminder of the value of having service users/beneficiaries etc. on your board of trustees. After all, they are the ones who really understand what your offer is and how it works.

Also, should we be campaigning for the right for individuals/volunteers to have time off work to attend charity board meetings or activities in their role as a trustee? What do you think? Here’s an interesting article discussing this. The important point is that its already a legal right for employees to have time off for public duties (jury service, as a magistrate, member of a health authority, member of a school board), so how much different would it be to include serving the community in a role as a charity trustee? Personally I think there is a strong case in the value of the proposition? What do you think? (Why not add your thoughts, opinions, ideas and questions about this and other topics on our AboutGovernance private online discussion space which is part of the VANEL Trustee Network offer).

The ICSA Charity Governance Conference 2017 takes place this week (in London of course). We’re not attending unfortunately, but we’ll be feeding back any useful snippets of news and information that we pick up after the event. If you’re attending yourself then we’d love to have your feedback. Being discussed at the conference are:
– Feedback on the House of Lords Select Committee report on Charities
– A look at the revised Charity Code of Governance
– Fundraising update from the Fundraising Regulator
– An exploration of technical issues in Charity Law which might appear in the new Charities Draft Bill later this year
– A look at ‘good culture’ within the charity sector, then a look at ideas about behaviour in governance
– And a look ahead to the future with the charity sector forecast.
All interesting topics and we look forward to learning more. If you’d like to discuss any of these topics with us then get in touch or head over to our “AboutGovernance” private discussion space.

Last week I reported on the startup of Charity Futures – a new independent organisation committed to developing ways forward in better charitable sector governance in the years ahead. No particularly new developments from Charity Futures this week but there is a detailed and interesting article just here which goes into depth about how the organisation has been setup and what it aims to achieve. It will be worthwhile keeping an eye on this organisation in the months and years ahead.

And those at Charity Futures may be considering the headline news about the RSPCA this week as their Chief Executive resigns and the Charity Commission indicates that the governance of the charity really needs some serious improvement. These stories are never helpful for the sector, so lets hope some lessons get learned (and shared).

Finally, don’t forget that VANEL offers a wide range of governance, trusteeship and leadership related services including training, resources, consultancy and much more. Our Trustee Network website (here) is being redeveloped, but there’s a quick list of all our governance related services here and then please feel free to get in touch to discuss how we can help you.

Karl Elliott, Development Manager – for resources and information