Governance opportunities

Published by Susan Robinson on 9 May 2021

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Governance is about ensuring your charity runs effectively and follows good practice. It is not necessarily about doing, it is about ensuring things are done.

However, over the last 12 months traditional operations and responsibilities have changed dramatically as charities adapt to respond to the conditions they have had to face. The next twelve months will bring with them different challenges and opportunities.

The role of the Trustee includes setting strategy. Many plans previously set have been deferred, cancelled or brought forward and in some cases achieved very rapidly. Now is the time to relook at your future plans, revisit your strategy, adapt or change it.

I would recommend revisiting or performing a SWOT analysis (Strengths Weakness, Opportunities and Threats). During the last 12 months you have probably found strengths you did not know you had. How can you use what you have learned during the pandemic to support your future plans? Has the use of digital become a strength or is it still a weakness? Can it open up other opportunities?

There have been a number of funding opportunities that charities have been able to access, but this will be tougher in the ensuring months. Under what heading would you put your fundraising ability? With possible restrictions on Government funds, more charities will be looking at other forms of funding. Having up to date and accurate information will be crucial to making appropriate decisions. Consider whether you need a new fundraising committee. Is the existing committee appropriate for your current requirements or does it need to change?

Are the systems you have in place suitable? Do you need to upgrade your existing system? One charity I was talking to were looking to bring in a new operating system but had not had time to implement it. The team realised with the onset of the pandemic that implementation was needed immediately. Once in use, the question was why had they not done it sooner. Review your systems. Are they still fit for purpose?

One of the trustee roles is to agree policies. These should be reviewed regularly. Have you introduced changes that need to be updated in your policies. Watch that a temporary change to meet current needs does not become a permanent change. Make sure agreed procedures are re-introduced as soon as possible.

Having relooked at your strategy what skills do you need to have to implement it. Having identified the skills do you actually have them? A Trustee Skills audit should be done on a regular basis. Where you are missing skills, start a Trustee Recruitment Process. In some cases, funding permitting, you may need to buy in the Skill. Skills are not just about technical ability, they are also behavioural – attention to detail when negotiating contracts, experience of direct or indirect use of the service.

People who think differently can help instigate change, don’t be frightened of it, harness it. Ensure the board encourages open discussions where no one is frightened to have their say. The future journey will have its bumps and curves, but good governance will help it confront these obstacles and help lead to a stronger and sustainable charity.

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