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Governance round-up: January 2024

Welcome to our monthly governance round-up. This month we share lessons from our recent Governance Forum.

Lessons from our Governance Forum

The Governance Forum is a space for governance professionals to come together and discuss the complex challenges facing the charity sector.

In our latest session we:

  • heard from the Charity Commission about their upcoming strategy
  • discussed equity, diversity, inclusion, and safeguarding with sponsors Stone King
  • heard about NCVO’s Fuelling Positive Change campaign.

Key takeaways from discussions included the following.

The use of the term ‘ESG’

This Forum focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) challenges. But participants had some issues with the term. Some felt it didn’t capture the current work and aspirations of boards within these areas.

For many charities, social and environmental impact is explicit in their core delivery. This is especially true for grassroots and community organisations. These organisations can provide practical examples of ESG principles that go beyond corporate ESG frameworks.

Actions that fall under the ‘S’ of ESG should be considered as part of wider strategic discussions, not treated as separate issues. This includes setting EDI, safeguarding and sustainability goals.

Participants felt that charity governance is ready to move beyond ESG. We should instead focus on the social value and key impact work happening in the sector.

Balancing drive and capacity

The charity sector’s desire to protect the environment and invest in equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging (EDIB) is clear. Forum participants reported beneficiaries and boards are keen to see progress in these areas.

A key challenge for charities is finding the capacity to meet this demand while also delivering their core purposes. Protecting the environment and being inclusive and accessible is the responsibility of everyone, from regulators to large and small charities. However, many organisations are struggling to meet rising demand for their services.

This is leading to a cost vs ethics conundrum for staff and volunteers trying to implement sustainability and EDIB action plans.

In the news

Youth charity One Young World has received an official warning from the Charity Commission.

The warning has been issued over breaches of trust, duty or other misconduct/mismanagement. It relates to unauthorised payments and a lack of accurate decision-making, including conflict of interest management by the trustees. The Commission identified this as a breach of the trustees’ statutory duty to act with reasonable care and skill.

Scrutiny is a key governance challenge for charities. When a charity is involved in a serious breach of trust they must work hard to prove they’re responsible, open, accountable and deserving of charity status.

One Young World hosts events around the world and is connected to a range of famous and influential figures. These include the Duchess of Sussex, Kofi Annan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Justin Trudeau, and Michelle Yeoh. An official warning is already serious, but links to these names will result in further interest and attention.

Famous speakers and advisors can add legitimacy to charities and their work. However, this situation shows it’s more important to follow good governance practice and ensure trustees are equipped to do their duties.

Our charity trustee induction and refresher training course explores the six statutory duties of a trustee. The course also offers an introduction to the Charity Commission as a regulator.

Trustee learning programme

Getting on Board is running free webinars, clinics and panel discussions to support trustees in their roles.

Find out more about the trustee learning programme

Training and events

Bespoke training

When we deliver a bespoke in-house training course we can:

  • tailor the course content to meet your needs
  • reflect your policies
  • provide opportunities for your staff and trustees to discuss challenges and issues.

If you’d like to discuss delivering any of our training courses in-house please contact training@ncvo.org.uk or complete our online training contact form.

Online governance training

We run regular online trustee inductions and refresher courses over two half-days. We’re also offering courses on the following areas.

  • Fundraising responsibilities for trustees
  • Safeguarding essentials for trustees
  • Supporting good governance

Browse our upcoming governance training

eLearning induction for trustees

We offer an eLearning module for trustees.

This course gives trustees a low-cost introduction to their roles.

Member events

We hold regular member assembly and welcome events.

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