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Cornwall Museums Partnership

What is Good Governance?

When I ask the question to Board members ‘What skills and experience do you think Trustees need?’ I usually get a bit of a list: ‘We need a marketing trustee, a finance trustee, a fundraising trustee, etc.’ I suppose I’m being intentionally vague with my words which might be unfair but what I’m really hoping to hear about is leadership, team working, questioning and challenging minds, excellent communicators, and diversity of experience. That’s not to say that those other skills aren’t important, they are, but the culture of the Board and the way in which it behaves is more important.

I’m sure some people will find this thought controversial, but by having specific business skills as the focus of Board development rather than values, culture, and diversity of experience, charities are limiting their ability to be effective and in turn not delivering the absolute best that they can for their stakeholders.

Good governance is not about ticking boxes, it’s about attitude and culture, and making sure that the positive values of your organisation are embedded throughout your charity and in everything that you do.

Small charities may say that this doesn’t apply to them, as they’re only a little charity and we’re talking about the big charities. But for any charity that relies on the goodwill of the public and for any Trustee that has the best interests of their organisation at heart, this matters.

 ‘The bottom line is, good governance is no longer an optional extra. It’s essential to charities effectiveness and probably survival too. Charities need to be able to demonstrate they take it seriously’ – Sarah Atkinson, Charity Commission 2017.

For more information on good governance and how we can support your organisation, get in touch at

Applications are now open for the Winifred Tumim Memorial Prize, which celebrates best practice in charity governance. To find out more and apply go to


Clare Pennington, Rural Proofing Resilience Manager –


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