Jan 9th 2017

Good governance – why does it matter?


Charity governance and fundraising have been in the spotlight recently, and not for good reasons.

The Charity Commission for England and Wales has published a report of its inquiry into a charity that supported hospices. Amongst its findings it found that there was poor governance, financial mismanagement, that the trustees hadn’t acted in the charity’s best interests, and that they failed to manage the risks or comply with their legal duties and responsibilities. The result was that a once healthy charity was no longer able to support its work in the community.

A further report from the Charity Commission goes on to cite that poor governance is often at the heart of the problems they tackle in their regulatory role, specifically a lack of strategic planning and oversight – which are often viewed by charities as ‘optional extras’.

To help combat this, a coalition of organisations, including the Charity Commission, ACEVO and the Small Charities Coalition have come together to consult on a new Charity Governance Code. As Rosie Chapman, Chair of the Charity Governance Steering Group says “The case for good governance of charities, led by committed and engaged trustees, with an understanding of their role, appropriate skills and an ability to lead has never been clearer”.

The draft code is based on 6 key principles and applies to any size of charity. These principles are built on a foundation that assumes trustees are committed to their charity’s goals, understand their roles and responsibilities, and aim to meet standards of best practice in governance. The code looks like this:

Code Diagram

Good Governance Code Diagram as cited by http://www.governancecode.org

Taken from http://www.governancecode.org

So why does any of this actually matter – how does this help me and my charity?

A well-governed organisation will find it easier to comply with the law and meet its aims. Using the code will help you develop good governance, whether you are starting from scratch or reviewing where you already are.

The Code’s principles and good practice tips are aimed to help board members:

  • Recognise and meet legal requirements
  • Know how well the organisation is meeting its aims
  • Make good, timely decisions
  • Explain where, why and how money has been spent
  • Provide strong leadership
  • Treat people fairly and equally

Using the Code will also help you demonstrate to funders and supporters that you take good governance seriously.

Serious about Good Governance? Cornwall Museums Partnership is delivering the first of a number of workshops aimed at improving governance on the 8th February at Cornwall’s Regimental Museum.

These full day workshop can be booked online here.