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March 29th, 2016ArticlesGeoffrey Hand 0 Comments

geoffrey-hand.jpgWhat are the ingredients of charity governance?

For that matter, what is this ‘governance’ that we’re always talking about?

It’s rather hard to find a good definition.

And rather easy to slip into thinking that it’s all about rather dull and dry policies and procedures and documents and ooh, zzzz, I’ve just dropped off myself….

What makes a charity great?

To me, the ingredients of charity governance are some very real, alive, and human things.

The things that make the difference between a well-governed charity and a poorly-governed charity are:

1. Passion – you already have it or you would not be reading this blog.

You are passionate about your charity, the good it does, the lives it changes, the difference it makes.

As you come to understand good governance you will wish it for your charity.  Good governance is about excellence in your charity’s delivery and direction.

Good works and good governance are two sides of the same coin. Passion enriches both.

So, the first ingredient is a big handful of passion.

2. Vision – the ability to see into the future and to project your charity’s Constitution or Governing Instrument into a clarion call for action and for change.

Your vision will give your charity a clear perception of where it is going and a commitment to its strategic priorities.

You will ensure its business, operational and other plans are all co-ordinated and aligned to achieve that goal.

The second ingredient is a good topping of vision.

3. Guardianship – you have custodial responsibility for all the charity’s assets.

This includes tangible assets, such as money and properties, and intangible asset including your charity’s good name and reputation, its organisational expertise, its values and culture.

Your guardianship extends to having an awareness of the dangers and challenges the charity faces in its ever-changing environment and to developing policies to identify and manage them.

The third ingredient of good governance is a strong staple of guardianship.

4. Regulation – your charity is established to provide a defined public benefit, not to be the plaything, however altruistic, of your trustees.

So your charity must honour the objectives and stipulations of their governing document, observe the law and operate within the regulation of the Charity Commission.

Good governance calls for a liberal dousing of regulation.

5. Transparent accountability – transparency of decision-making and a ready openness to explain your charity’s activities are the reciprocals of the public’s trust and generosity.

When you operate with transparent accountability, it prompts clarity of thought and sound decision-making.

It brings integrity, diversity and ethical behaviour.   It permeates the whole organisation as yeast does to dough.

So, how do you and your charity stack up?

The result?  Take these five ingredients, mix them well together and you will indeed produce some very good governance.

Is this a vivid description of your charity?  Do you and your charity score beautifully in Good Trustee / Bad Trustee – The Quiz and the charity governance quiz?

Or, if you’d like some help in getting there, do get in touch.

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Geoffrey Hand

Geoffrey Hand is a charity governance consultant, offering governance consultancy and training. He also provides legal services management, helping charities get better value for money from their lawyers. Geoffrey has extensive experience in the charity and legal worlds, and his mission is to help charities deliver good governance.

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