How good is your governance?

7 Aug 2015 Denise Copeland    Last updated: 7 Aug 2015

Recent media coverage of a large charity in England having to shut down because of financial issues has hopefully prompted those sitting on boards of charities to think about their own governance practice.

It is timely then that the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has recently published new guidance to assist charities on complying with  their legal obligations. 

The ‘Getting it right’ guidance  includes information on a range of legal requirements that charity trustees must comply with and best practice requirements that they should implement. 

Commenting on the guidance, the Commission’s Head of Compliance and Enquiries, Myles McKeown, said:

“It is important to remember that the law is there to protect charities; failing to comply with the law can put a charity, its finances, its reputation or beneficiaries at risk. No charity trustee wants the Commission to come calling with concerns over how their charity is being run - using our guidance can help you avoid that by ensuring you are already getting things right.”

The Commission also produced a report in December entitled ‘Lessons learned: Focus on charity trustees’ where it outlines its approach to looking into concerns and includes useful case studies for all charities to learn from. It has identified four common themes which give rise to governance problems in charities: low trustee numbers, longevity of trustees, disqualified individuals and adherence to governing documents.

For organisations that would like to proactively assess their governance, the Code of Good Governance Health Check is a great starting point. It should help boards of any size to demonstrate their good governance practices to their stakeholders, beneficiaries and funders alike. The Developing Governance Group has recently secured funding to republish the revised Code of Good Governance and redevelop the diycommitteeguide website along with a revised healthcheck which should be launched next year. In the meantime the current Code and Healthcheck are still relevant and all organisations are encouraged to use it.  

denise.copeland@nicva.org's picture
by Denise Copeland

Governance and Charity Advice Manager

[email protected]

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