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August 22nd, 2016ArticlesGeoffrey Hand 0 Comments

Charity governance updates

Are you doing a good job as a charity trustee?  Well then, you’ll surely have these seven critical ingredients of charity governance in place already!

1. Evaluating your trustee board

Appraisals for staff are common-place and need no justification.

Individual trustees and trustee boards are no different. Objective evaluation of a board of trustees should happen once a year.

Anyone arguing to the contrary is either complacent or reluctant to face the truth! An essential of strong governance.

2. Limiting your terms of office

No-one wants to break up a good team, but no-one should be an office-holder or a trustee beyond their sell-by date.

Test your board by envisaging 1-year, 3-year or 6-year terms of office. Obviously too short, obviously too long; there is no “one-size fits all”.

But formal terms of office are a “must” – make sure your governing document includes them and your board sticks to them.

3. Ensuring your funding is sustainable

Funding can be a perpetual worry but endemic financial insecurity may be the death-knell of a charity; strategic thinking becomes impossible.

Establishing a variety of sustainable income-streams is a prime trustee responsibility, backed by a realistic reserves policy and hard-nosed annual risk assessments.

If your objects are worthwhile and your team is dynamic there will be funding to be found. Seek it out.

4. Really engage your trustees

“Meetings-only” trustees are not properly engaged. They must get know the staff, meet the beneficiaries and the sponsors, get their feet under the table and identify with the work of the charity.

It is the chairs’s job to create this engagement and to enhance trustee relationships.

“Wine is an underrated aid to good governance”.

5. Respect your management

Trustees are about formulating policies not implementing them. That’s the function of the executive staff employed by the trustees.

Distinguish interest from interference. Proper boundaries and mutual respect are fundamentals to successful governance.

6. Keep your board diverse

Recruit trustees on a systematic basis without reliance on the social networks of present members.

Use internet and social media advertising to gain age, experience, gender and ethnic diversity. 

Avoid magnolia magnetism.

7. Train your trustees!

Keep the trustee board up to the mark by setting and spending a trustee training and development budget.

Require professional CPD training standards to avoid “unpaid” being synonymous with “amateur”.

How does your charity shape up?

So, congratulations if you can already tick all seven of these off.  Take the trustee quiz next for further inspiration.

And if you’d like any help with beefing up your governance, don’t hesitate to get in touch, or to book your charity’s Trustee Pit Stop training session.

With gratitude to John Williams, vice-chair of the Association of Chairs, for some of the ideas behind this article.

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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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