Governance Weekly for 4th August

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.


Kids Company raises its head again this week with the Charity Commission sharing some thoughts about what Charity Trustees should know about finances to help protect their charities from the sorts of failures that consumed that organisation.

So often the financial security of a voluntary organisation may be left to the Treasurer and perhaps just a couple of others. Yet financial stability is critical for any charity and is the responsibility of each and every Trustee.

The article by the Charity Commission is on the Guardian Network here. There is a recent report on the financial stability of UK charities that is worth a read too, but the really important point are two guidance documents. These are “charity finances: trustee essentials” and “charity reserves: building resilience”. Both aim to inform trustees about complex financial matters in a straightforward way. Every Trustee should read these.

So an action point should be to add these two documents to your Trustee Induction process, into your Trustee handbook (or wherever your Trustees get their information), and should ideally be discussed amongst your board at one of your meetings. Financial matters can’t be left until the money runs out – it needs to be part of your board’s ongoing thinking.

If you need another tool to help you and your board get your head around it, refer to the “15 questions Trustees should ask themselves” document from the Charity Commission. Set aside some time in a board meeting to discuss the questions. Your beneficiaries and clients will thank you for your efforts in the long run…

Support from VANEL

If the financial figures, spreadsheets, accounts and financial discussions at board meetings scare you, then you’re probably not alone. There is lots of information, guidance and resources out there to help you to understand enough to be useful in a board meeting, but where to start?

VANEL is holding a training workshop on Tuesday 5th September which might help. “Finances for non-financial Trustees“ is going to take a back to basics look at the financial information that you’ll see when you attend board meetings so that you understand what is being discussed and can contribute fully as a member of the board.

So the session is NOT aimed at Treasurers, but is aimed at Charity Trustees who need to know about the numbers.

The session is from 2pm-4pm at VANEL offices, costs £20 per attendee (£30 for non-VANEL-members) and is by booking only. Contact Karl Elliott direct to book or enquiry –

More specific information here.

Our full training calendar for governance and trusteeship related courses is here.

And finally, a note of a couple of other Training dates from VANEL.

We’re re-running our workshop to discuss the new “Charity Governance Code” on Tuesday 15th August. Details here If you want to know about the new code and how to apply it to develop your board’s governance practices then this workshop will be invaluable.

Our next August training course is “Technology for Trustees” (info here)

And if you have new trustees, perhaps inexperienced trustees, or simply trustees that need a refresher on what the role is all about, then the next dates for our “Induction and Refresher Training for Trustees” are Tuesday 5th September (10-12), Wednesday 27th Sept (2-4) and then 24th Nov (3-5). Booking essential. Contact Karl

Karl Elliott, Development Manager / 01472 287548 – for an overview of our resources and information – for the Trustee Network blog and information – our Governance blog – private discussion space for trustees