13 Jul 2017

The new bilingual Charity Governance Code will outline the high standards that all charities in England and Wales should aspire to and is designed to help charities and their trustees to develop high standards of governance.

External reviews for larger charities every three years, more openness and limits on how long trustees may serve are among new recommendations unveiled by a group of leading charity membership bodies to strengthen governance and accountability in the voluntary and community sector.

The renamed code is an updated version of the previous Code of Good Governance. It has been devised by a cross-sector steering group headed by independent chair Rosie Chapman and comprising the Association of Chairs; the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations; ICSA: The Governance Institute; the National Council for Voluntary Organisations; the Small Charities Coalition; and WCVA.  

The Charity Commission has marked its endorsement for the new code by withdrawing its publication, Hallmarks of an Effective Charity, in favour of encouraging charities to use the code.

The guidelines come in two versions which share common principles and outcomes: one set of recommended practice applies to smaller charities and another to larger organisations, where accounts are audited.

Key recommendations include:

  • more oversight when dealing with subsidiary companies; registers of interests and third parties such as fundraising agencies or commercial ventures.
  • an expectation that the board will review its own performance and that of individual trustees, including the chair, every year, with an external evaluation for larger organisations every three years.
  • no trustee should serve more than nine years without good reason.
  • boards thinking carefully about diversity, how they recruit a range of skills and experience, and how they make trusteeship a more attractive proposition.
  • boards should operate with the presumption of openness.
  • stronger emphasis on the role of the chair and vice chair in supporting and achieving good governance.

A new website www.charitygovernancecode.org has also just launched to host the code online.

The work on the code has been funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust and the Clothworkers Foundation. Charities were asked for feedback on a draft version of the code. Between November 2016 and February 2017, when the draft guidelines were circulated, there were more than 200 responses, with a clear majority backing the draft proposals.

Rosie Chapman, chair of the Charity Governance Code steering group, said: 'The code for the first time sets out clear aspirations for a charity board to meet.  This Code is a great stepping off point to help charities navigate the changes. It will be an essential tool for charities to use and will greatly assist them to develop and grow in their effectiveness.

'It has been achieved through a great deal of effort from many people in many organisations and it is all the richer for their input.'

Peter Davies, chair of the board of trustees at WCVA, said: 'Strong governance is essential in building trust with funders and ensuring the effectiveness of services to beneficiaries. WCVA welcomes the new code in providing clear guidance to trustees and will be working to support its implementation across the sector in Wales.'

Read the full press release at: www.ncvo.org.uk

The Code of Charity Governance can be found at www.charitygovernancecode.org

WCVA welcomes new version of the Charity Governance Code

Read the blog from WCVA's new Governance and Safeguarding Manager, Mair Rigby, about the new Charity Governance Code and why it's important for third sector organisations.

Charity Governance Code E