A quick blog as charities again make the headlines for negative reasons this week. Compliance, accountability, transparency, reputation, how charities are monitored, and above all, trust. The demise of Kids Company has now been followed in 2018 by allegations and headlines about another global, well known charity.
I have worked in the sector in the past and today count registered charities among my clients. I am a founding partner of a social enterprise for which I hold a directorship. I take my responsibilities very seriously and crucially, I know what they are. I also make sure I ma accountable and meet the requirements of my role. I understand what my duties are. There is agreed policy and practice that is demonstrable and of high quality.
Charities tend to be very good at their 'cause' in that operationally the effort and resources are high and the focus on beneficiary good. What is in my experience less well understood, managed and led are the areas of the internal performance management and organisational development and governance. I think large charities have this more under control than the plethora of smaller ones (although today's news tempers that assumption).
Paying attention to the "inside" of the organisation - strategically linking it to operational business plans and marketing strategy, performance managing and linking it to people management, reward, motivation, recognition, CPD, building capability, using MI, making sure everyone is aligned to purpose, objectives and where they fit in, managing change - are all examples of areas that need to also have time, leadership and resources in use. Without this "inside" work, the operational delivery isn't as effective or productive (and that's a very short explanation for a host of benefits not explained here).
Governance is, however, the key issue that time and again is a conundrum that is not easily solved. Trustees are volunteers who give up their time and skills for free. And trustees are the people responsible for running a charity. There is Charity Commission guidance and standards on this and some specific duties that trustees must follow. These are not 'policed' (and when something happens, the resources of the Commission compared to the number of registered charities in the UK makes it nigh impossible to police everyone).
Charities and the VCSE sector have a lot to do in building trust. The reputation (by association) and the public perception of the sector has taken a beating recently.
Start with governance
Quality governance is a key aspect of this trust building. There are national VCSE bodies that can offer guidance and support. While getting trustees to meet, do training, address these issues is a big challenge, so is recruiting and finding new trustees who are willing to give up time to lead and run charities in the future. Who will step forwards when trust is low? Regardless of how long or not trustees have been in post, now is the time to make sure they and the charity they run are fit for purpose. And governance is where it begins.
I provide support and training to help
- Practical support and guidance for boards of trustees and their employees through organisational development consultancy, mentoring, coaching and practical actions to become sustainable and fit for purpose.
- Trustee workshops - follow the links to the workshop pages elsewhere on this site and see the sample programme for trustees; this can be tailored to suit the circumstances.
Get in touch if I can help.