Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Institute for Philanthropy which usually does excellent research and provides, by and large, free publications on governance issues has just produced a report entitled, The State of UK Charity Boards which says this, based on their research,

... we provide, in order of importance, five recommendations of good governance for the boards of UK charities. These are that:
  1. Each trustee of a charity should either provide or actively raise funds for their charity.
  2. Each board should conduct an annual review of its own performance, and should meet regularly: if possible, at least four times a year.
  3. The chief executive should have a greater role in the selection of the trustees.
  4. There should be a greater emphasis on succession planning.
  5. Charities should spread the net wider when recruiting trustees.
Whether you agree with these or not, it is interesting to note that they consider the most important recommendation to be about trustees and fund-raising.

This is interesting to me because I have seen charities fail where trustees haven't had a clue about their own finances, have spent their reserves without knowing it and have thought that it was someone else's responsibility to ensure that they were financially viable.

Whilst we go onto boards to advance the object of our chosen charity we do need to ensure that there are enough funds, now and in the future, to ensure that that object can be achieved. It is no use being committed to a cause without the means to make any difference. If we employ staff then we have a duty to ensure that there are sufficient funds to continue employing them.

As the economic situation for charities gets ever more difficult we may be taxed with finding new ways to raise funds to keep services being delivered and staff employed. Any charity which does not have financial sustainability as a key target which trustees are totally committed to achieving is not going to be able to meet its charitable object or will only do so through luck. We should not be trusting to fortune for those things that we value highly.

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