Practical governance tips for charity Chairs and Chief Executives

Fiveways is motivated by making a positive difference to society through working with charities so that they can be even more effective and do more good. The most effective and impactful charities are well governed, but good governance, like a decent football referee, is barely noticed.

The recent increased profile of the subject has resulted in several new resources for charity leaders appearing, not least the Governance Code, Fiveways’ own Stress Test, and a whole host of providers offering full legal governance reviews. However, our experience of helping charities to improve in this area (and from being senior leaders and trustees of charities), tells us that the barrier to providing good governance is not necessarily one of skill, knowledge or intention, but more one of priority and time.

To help, Fiveways has produced a series of short practical tips to help charity Chairs and in particular Chief Executives guide their organisations in ways which are efficient, effective and proportionate.

The intention is to help charity leaders take action so that the organisations they are responsible for are run better. On occasions, this may mean facing some criticism – we don’t apologise for this: we know that charity leaders cannot be perfect, and that the context they work within can be challenging, but we also know that critical friends are often more useful than either critics or friends.

We are also aware that not all tips will be relevant to all charities, and even if the issues we write about resonate, they will not create an effective charity overnight. The hope, however, is that by sharing our learning we can help you further your mission, and stop the referee taking centre stage.

Tip 1: Know the key parts of your Mem and Arts
Tip 2: Get your head(s) in the right place about governance
Tip 3: Write down who is responsible for which decisions
Tip 4: A trustee is for life, not just for meetings… so keep them involved
Tip 5: Get the trustees involved in operations
Tip 6: Write a plan for ineffectual trustees