- Annual reporting by large charities to the Charity Commission (via the Statement of Recommended Practice) should focus on a charity’s impact as well as its financial standing. At the very least this should include updates on what a charity has achieved in a given year, how this compares with the year before, and what is included in future plans.
- The same annual reporting should include details on training and evaluation undertaken by the board to develop its own work and remain effective.
- Existing Charity Commission guidance, which actively discourages boards from considering paying trustees, should instead invite charities to make the case to the Commission for paying trustees when that is appropriate for better governance. This will be especially important to attracting more diverse board membership.
- The Office for Civil Society and Innovation should consider giving the Charity Commission power to sanction charities that repeatedly breach these extended requirements.
It also recommends a greater role certifying the quality of boards for organisations like the Institute of Directors, which bring an expertise and gravitas to which both trustees and the public will respond.
Iona Joy, Head of the Charities Team at NPC and the co-author of It starts from the top, said:
‘The buck stops with trustees. At the thousands of organisations all over the UK doing amazing work, trustee boards deserve enormous credit. Equally they face tough questions if things go wrong, or if they allow their organisations to coast along complacently.
‘The Charity Commission has a key role in getting the most out of trustees. It’s important to get the right balance between the carrot and the stick, but ministers should certainly look at extra powers for the regulator if charities repeatedly fail to provide the sort of information asked of them.
‘Beneficiaries and donors rightly expect charities to do an effective job. Getting the governance right is at the heart of making sure this happens’.
The NPC lists some of the projects it has recently been involved in:
- Our work with the Ministry of Justice on helping charities to understand the impact of their work with offenders, resulted in the Justice Data Lab, which enables organisations that work with offenders to access re-offending data.
- Our research on numeracy, Count me in, inspired the launch of an important new charity, National Numeracy in 2012.
- We receive consistently high ratings from our clients. In Autumn 2012, feedback from 16 recent clients who responded to a client survey showed that 100% believe NPC‘s output and deliverables to be good or excellent, and 100% believe our communication and client services to be good or excellent. 93% consider NPC’s process and approach to be good or excellent and would recommend us to another organisation looking to commission a similar project. Read more about NPC’s clients and partners.
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