Governance report: December 2021 | NCVO BlogsNCVO Blogs

Back to 2021

It has been another difficult year for the voluntary sector, but charities and their boards have once again shown incredible adaptability and resilience.

In our governance summaries, we have explored a range of topics and updates intended to help boards meet governance challenges in times of uncertainty. I hope you found these updates useful. I thought I’d start the December roundup with some highlights of the content we’ve shared over the past 12 months:

New Charity Commission chairman resigns

Martin Thomas was appointed as the next chairman of the Charity Commission in early December, only to step down last week before taking office.

Thomas stepped down from the role after it emerged formal complaints had been made against him for ‘inappropriate behaviour’ while president of Women for Women International. One such complaint was reported as a ‘serious incident’ to the Charity Commission.

In its reporting, The Times highlighted Thomas’ ties to the Prime Minister and questioned the impartiality of the appointment. Civil society also covered the story.

This raises serious questions about the due diligence exercised and the integrity of the appointment process.

At the NCVO, we want to see a strong, credible and impartial charity commission capable of fulfilling its role in regulating our sector. This must include the president who must be above reproach. The industry needs to have confidence in the president from day one, and that requires a strong recruitment process.

Given the shortcomings of this process, we are now calling on the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to restart recruitment from scratch. You can read our full immediate response in this Twitter thread.

Cybersecurity Toolkit

During the covid-19 pandemic, the charitable sector has become even more dependent on the use of digital technology to operate and govern. In fact, a Charity Bank survey last year found that eight in 10 charities have found new ways to use technology as they seek to adapt to the ‘new normal’ amid the pandemic.

However, this change has led to increased risks associated with cybersecurity and cyberfraud. Good cybersecurity therefore protects a charity’s ability to operate.

To help integrate this, we wanted to re-share the Cybersecurity Toolkit from the National Cybersecurity Center. The toolkit is specially designed for boards of directors and offers a practical approach to managing cybersecurity risks.

In the news

Covid-19 vaccination as a condition of employment and volunteering

The government recently announced that from April 2022 regulations will be put in place meaning that only fully vaccinated staff and volunteers will be allowed to provide services regulated by the Care Quality Commission, with some exceptions . Trustees of organizations subject to these regulations will need to take steps to plan for these changes.

My colleague Catherine has blogged about the changes and how organizations can prepare.

Impact of covid-19 on charities: Charity Commission research

The Charity Commission has published research exploring the impact of the pandemic on the sector. There are no big surprises – research shows that many charities:

  • saw his income decline
  • adapted its services
  • drawn from reserves to maintain operations.

Although the Charity Commission says it’s hard to draw general lessons given the diversity of the sector, it does share the following key takeaways for charity leaders.

  • Always be guided by the goals of your charity and the best interests of those you are there to serve.
  • Never avoid or delay difficult decisions.
  • Recognize that how you make and communicate your decisions can be as important as the decisions you make.

You may want to share this research with your board if you are doing work on your charity’s response to the pandemic.

Trainings and events

Dan Francis is NCVO’s Principal Governance Consultant. For more regular updates, follow @mynameisdanfran Where @NCVO on Twitter.

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