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March 18th, 2017ArticlesGeoffrey Hand 0 Comments


If so, you may not be alone!

A charity CEO complains of being driven out of the third sector by “Victorian attitudes” among charity trustees – just as the draft of a new Charity Governance Code is published.

Co-incidence or serendipity?

Everyone starts out with the best of intentions, but…

Are your trustee boards like those the CEO describes, “wracked by internal politics, conflicts, power struggles and competing agendas” with “a general lack of professionalism that is staggering”?

Is yours a charity whose staff “work really hard yet nothing is good enough for the trustees, even though many of them cannot not read a balance sheet and make no contribution to the strategic direction of the charity”?

Has your charity taken on trustees “with no experience and no knowledge of what their legal and financial responsibilities are on the assumption that just because someone is successful in their day job they know what to do when it comes to running a charity”?

How to roll back the nightmare

There can be no better guarantee of avoiding these problems than for your trustees to adopt a Code of Conduct.

Hence the National Council for Voluntary Organisations has just concluded a consultation on a new Charity Governance Code of Conduct.  Take a look.

But if yours is a smaller charity, less than £1million income (97% of all registered charities!), an ideal publication is the Codes of Conduct for Trustees published by the Small Charities Coalition back in 2008, but just as relevant today.

Clarity and guidance

If your trustees worry they are not doing enough or not doing it in the right way, this Code will provide a benchmark for behaviour.

It will give you confidence in the knowledge that your team are behaving properly.

If any of your trustees come from other sectors and are new to charity trusteeship, it will provide them with assurance and understanding, making them better and more effective as trustees.

Smooth working relationships

And if yours is one of the small minority of trustee boards who are driving their CEO – or Project Co-Ordinator – to despair, the adoption of this Code of Conduct may well be your salvation.

I can make no greater commendation to your board of trustees, however excellent it may be, than to adopt a Code of Practice and so to avoid falling foul of any trustee nightmare.

And if this isn’t you and your charity at all, well then congrats!  You might like to take the charity governance quiz, or good trustee/bad trustee – the quiz, and see if you can give yourself any further pats on the back…

And if you’d like some help, with this or any other governance question at your charity, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Geoffrey Hand

Geoffrey Hand is a charity governance consultant, offering governance consultancy and training. He also provides legal services management, helping charities get better value for money from their lawyers. Geoffrey has extensive experience in the charity and legal worlds, and his mission is to help charities deliver good governance.

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