The Crucial Role of Sound Charity Governance in Fundraising Success
For most charities, effective fundraising is the lifeblood that enables them to fulfil their missions and make a positive impact on society. However, successful fundraising is not merely about implementing appealing campaigns or leveraging the latest marketing strategies; it is deeply intertwined with the foundations of sound charity governance. Governance plays a pivotal role in fundraising efforts and contributes to the overall success of charitable endeavours.
Building Trust and Credibility:
Sound charity governance is the bedrock upon which trust and credibility are established. Donors, whether individuals, corporations, or foundations, want assurance that their contributions will be used responsibly and ethically. A well-governed charity inspires confidence, assuring donors that their funds will be utilised effectively to address charitable objective. Transparency, accountability, and ethical decision-making are key elements that foster trust and credibility in the eyes of potential donors.
Effective governance involves strategic decision-making at the board level. A well-structured board, with diverse expertise and a deep understanding of the mission, can guide fundraising efforts with a strategic focus. This includes identifying the most viable fundraising opportunities, allocating resources efficiently, and adapting to changing circumstances. Strategic decision-making enables charities to maximise their fundraising potential and respond proactively to challenges.
Aligning Mission and Fundraising Goals:
The alignment of fundraising goals with the overall mission of the charity is fundamental to success. A board that is firmly committed to the organisation's mission will guide fundraising efforts in a way that reinforces and advances that mission. This alignment not only ensures that the funds raised contribute directly to the intended impact but also creates a compelling narrative that resonates with donors, making them more likely to support the cause.
Compliance and Risk Management:
Governance involves ensuring compliance with legal and regulatory frameworks, which is crucial for fundraising success. Charities must navigate complex legal landscapes, and a failure to comply can lead to reputational damage and legal consequences. A well-governed charity establishes robust compliance and risk management frameworks, providing assurance to donors and supporters that their contributions are handled responsibly and ethically.
Effective Communication and Relationship Building:
Communication is a cornerstone of successful fundraising, and effective governance facilitates clear and consistent communication both internally and externally. A board that values open communication channels within the charity and with external stakeholders can build stronger relationships with donors. Regular updates, transparent reporting, and a clear articulation of the impact achieved through fundraising efforts contribute to donor satisfaction and loyalty.
In the dynamic world of charitable fundraising, the role of sound charity governance cannot be overstated. It forms the foundation upon which trust, credibility, and strategic decision-making are built. Understanding and advocating for robust governance practices will not only enhance the fundraising capabilities of the organisation you work with but also contribute to their long-term success in creating positive change.
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Creating Effective Board Meeting Minutes for Charity Trustee Boards
Effective board meeting minutes are an essential tool for charity trustee boards. These documents not only serve as a record of the board's decisions and discussions but also play a crucial role in ensuring transparency, accountability, and legal compliance.
When done correctly, board meeting minutes can be a valuable resource for trustees, staff, donors, and regulators. I have seen some wonderful and woeful examples. Being a good minute-taker takes practice. So what should good board meeting minutes include?
Every set of board meeting minutes should begin with basic meeting details, such as:
- Date and time of the meeting.
- Location or virtual platform used for the meeting.
- Names of the chairperson, secretary or other offices, and attendees present.
This section helps establish a clear timeline and context for the meeting's proceedings.
Approval of Previous Minutes
The minutes should include a section where the previous meeting's minutes are approved. This demonstrates that the board is committed to reviewing and endorsing past decisions, fostering accountability, and maintaining continuity.
The minutes should include a summary of the meeting agenda. This section provides an outline of the topics and items discussed during the meeting. It helps readers quickly identify the issues addressed, making the document more accessible.
Discussion and Decisions
The core of board meeting minutes should encompass a detailed record of discussions and decisions. Key elements to include are:
- Summary of discussions: Briefly outline the key points raised during the meeting. This should not be verbatim but capture the essence of the conversation.
- Resolutions and decisions: Clearly state any resolutions, motions, or decisions made during the meeting. Include who proposed, seconded, and the outcome of each vote. Note if any decisions were deferred to a later date.
This section should be comprehensive enough for stakeholders to understand the rationale behind decisions.
List any action items assigned during the meeting. Clearly state who is responsible for each task, the due date, and any specific requirements or expectations. This section ensures that follow-up actions are documented and that accountability is maintained.
Reports and Updates
Summarise reports presented during the meeting. This can include financial reports, reports from committees, or updates from staff members. These reports provide context for the decisions made during the meeting.
Guest Speakers and Presentations
If the board had guest speakers or presentations, briefly summarise the main points or topics covered. Include the names of the speakers and any key takeaways that are relevant to the board's activities.
Any Other Business
Include any other business that may have been discussed or raised during the meeting. This section allows for the recording of unexpected or impromptu discussions that occurred. However, personally I am not keen on this section and like topics to be tabled in advance so everyone has a chance to consider the item.
Conclude the minutes by stating the time of adjournment and any plans for future meetings.
The minutes should be signed by the appropriate person, such as the chairperson or secretary, to confirm their accuracy and completeness.
Well-structured board meeting minutes are an invaluable resource for charity trustee boards. They serve as a historical record of decisions and discussions, providing transparency, accountability, and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. By including meeting details, agenda, discussion and decisions, action items, reports, and other relevant information, charity trustee boards can create effective and informative minutes that contribute to the success and sustainability of their organisations. Good minutes not only aid in internal decision-making but also demonstrate responsible governance to stakeholders and regulatory bodies.
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Understanding the Role of a Charity Trustee: A Guide for Charity Staff
Charities play a vital role in addressing a wide range of social, environmental, and humanitarian issues. Behind the scenes, dedicated individuals, known as charity trustees, are instrumental in guiding and overseeing these organisations. In this article, we will explore the important role of a charity trustee and how their responsibilities affect the work of charity staff.
What is a Charity Trustee?
A charity trustee is a volunteer who serves as a member of a charity's board of trustees, sometimes also called a board of directors. These individuals are entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the charity fulfils its mission and operates in the best interests of its beneficiaries. Charity trustees are the governing body of the charity, responsible for its overall management and decision-making.
Key Responsibilities of a Charity Trustee
Governance and Strategy: Charity trustees are responsible for setting the strategic direction of the charity. They establish goals, objectives, and policies to help the organisation achieve its mission. This involves making important decisions that impact the charity's operations.
Financial Oversight: Charity trustees oversee the charity's financial health. They ensure that the organisation manages its resources effectively, adheres to budgetary constraints, and complies with financial regulations.
Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Trustees are responsible for ensuring that the charity adheres to all legal and regulatory requirements. This includes reporting to government agencies, maintaining transparency, and ensuring the charity operates within the boundaries of its charitable objectives.
Risk Management: Charity trustees assess and manage risks that the charity may encounter. They must identify potential challenges and develop strategies to mitigate them, ensuring the organisation's long-term sustainability.
Fundraising and Resource Allocation: Trustees often play a key role in fundraising efforts. They may assist in identifying potential donors, securing grants, and allocating resources to various projects and programs.
How Charity Trustees Impact Charity Staff
Guidance and Support: Charity trustees provide staff with strategic direction and guidance. They help staff understand the charity's long-term goals and how they fit into the organisation's mission.
Financial Security: By overseeing the charity's financial health, trustees ensure that staff members receive their salaries and resources for their work. They also make decisions that impact the availability of funds for different programs and initiatives.
Legal and Ethical Framework: Charity trustees help staff navigate legal and regulatory requirements, ensuring that the charity operates ethically and within the law. This protects staff from potential legal issues.
Risk Management: Trustees' risk management efforts help protect the jobs and well-being of charity staff. By identifying and mitigating risks, they ensure stability and the security of staff positions.
Resource Allocation: The decisions made by charity trustees impact how resources are allocated to different projects and departments within the charity. Staff may need to work within budget constraints and manage resources effectively.
In conclusion, charity trustees play a crucial role in ensuring the success and sustainability of charitable organisations. Their responsibilities extend beyond the boardroom, directly impacting the work of charity staff. By understanding the role of trustees and working collaboratively, staff and trustees can collectively contribute to achieving the charity's mission and creating a positive impact on society.
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The Dangers of Not Putting Theory into Practice
Theory is the foundation of knowledge. It provides a framework for understanding the world around us and solving problems. However, theory is only useful if it is put into practice. When we fail to put theory into practice, we miss out on its many benefits.
Here are some of the dangers of not putting theory into practice:
- We may make poor decisions. When we don't understand the underlying principles, we are more likely to make mistakes. This can lead to bad decisions that can have negative consequences.
- We may miss opportunities. Theory can help us to identify new opportunities and to develop creative solutions to problems. We may miss out on these opportunities if we don't put theory into practice.
- We may become stagnant. Theory can help us stay updated on the latest trends and developments. If we don't keep learning, we may become stagnant and out of touch with the world around us.
- We may lose credibility. When we fail to put theory into practice, it can make us appear to be incompetent or unqualified. This can damage our credibility and make it difficult to achieve our goals.
The dangers of not putting theory into practice are real. If we want to be successful in our personal and professional lives, we need to make sure that we are putting theory into practice.
Some tips for putting theory into practice:
- Develop a Theory of Change for your charity – more later in this article.
- Find opportunities to experiment with new ideas.
- Don't be afraid to make mistakes.
- Be open to feedback from others.
- Be persistent and keep learning.
By following these tips, you can avoid the dangers of not putting theory into practice and you can achieve your full potential.
It is important to remember that theory is just a starting point. It is through practice that we truly learn and grow. So don't be afraid to put your theories into practice. You may be surprised at what you can achieve.
One of the most practical ways I have seen of turning theory into practice is using the Theory of change.
Theory of Change
A theory of change (ToC) is a description of how a charity or initiative expects to achieve its goals. It is a way of thinking about the causal linkages between activities and its desired outcomes and impacts.
A ToC typically includes the following elements:
- Long-term goals: What are the charity’s ultimate goals?
- Intermediate outcomes: What are the specific changes that need to happen in order to achieve the long-term goals?
- Activities: What specific things will the charity do to achieve the intermediate outcomes?
- Assumptions: What assumptions is the charity making about how change will happen?
A ToC can be used for a variety of purposes, including:
- Planning: A ToC can help the charity to plan its activities and interventions in a way that is more likely to be successful.
- Evaluation: A ToC can be used to evaluate the impact of the charity's work.
- Communication: A ToC can be used to communicate the charity's goals and strategies to its stakeholders.
How to Develop a Theory of Change
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to developing a ToC. However, some general steps can be followed:
- Start with the long-term goals. What are the charity's ultimate goals? These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound.
- Identify the intermediate outcomes. What are the specific changes that need to happen in order to achieve the long-term goals? These outcomes should be measurable and achievable.
- Identify the activities. What specific things will the charity do to achieve the intermediate outcomes? These activities should be feasible and aligned with the charity's resources and capacity.
- Identify the assumptions. What assumptions does the charity make about how change will happen? These assumptions should be made explicit and tested over time.
- Revise and update the ToC as needed. The ToC should be a living document that is revised and updated as the charity learns more about how to achieve its goals.
Benefits of Using a Theory of Change
In summary, there are many benefits to using a ToC, including:
- Improved planning: A ToC can help a charity to plan its activities and interventions in a way that is more likely to be successful.
- More effective evaluation: A ToC can be used to evaluate the impact of a charity's work.
- Clearer communication: A ToC can be used to communicate the charity's goals and strategies to its stakeholders.
- Increased accountability: A ToC can help a charity to be more accountable for its results.
- Greater learning: A ToC can help a charity to learn from its experiences and improve its work over time.
A theory of change is a valuable tool for any charity and initiatives that are working to achieve social change. By understanding how change happens, the charity can be more strategic in its planning and interventions and more effective in achieving its goals.
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Maximising the Value of an Interim Leader
During times of organisational transition, interim leadership plays a pivotal role in maintaining continuity, driving change, and achieving goals. To fully leverage the potential of interim leaders and optimise outcomes, it is essential to understand how to maximise their value.
I was delighted to join Prospectus at their breakfast webinar: ‘Maximising the Value of an Interim Leader’, where Elizabeth Balgobin and I shared our insights and strategies.
Hosted by Linda Griffiths, Director of Executive Search (UK) at Prospectus, the conversation provided attendees with a comprehensive understanding of the benefits and best practices associated with engaging interim leaders, how to position yourself effectively as a candidate for interim leadership roles, as well as covering practical considerations such as how to use your time in between roles, and annual leave and pension implications.
The importance of media training.
In January I was talking to Ann Wright from Rough House Media about the importance of training your board of Trustees and key staff in media management.
In today's digital age, media management is an essential skill for trustees of charities and other not-for-profit organisations. Trustees need to be able to understand how the media works, how to communicate effectively with journalists, and how to manage their organisation's reputation.
There are a number of reasons why training trustees in media management is important:
- It can help to ensure that the charity's message is communicated effectively to the public.
- It can help to protect the charity's reputation in the event of a media crisis.
- It can help to build relationships with journalists and other media professionals.
If your charity is large enough you could offer in-house training, for most outsourcing the training to external providers is the most productive option.
The content of media management training for trustees will vary depending on the specific needs of the charity. However, some of the topics that may be covered include:
- The role of the media in society
- How to communicate effectively with journalists
- How to manage a media crisis
- How to build relationships with journalists
- The legal implications of media relations
Training trustees on media management is an important investment for any charity. By providing trustees with the skills they need to manage media relations effectively, charities can protect their reputation, build relationships with the media, and ensure that their message is communicated effectively to the public.
Well, that is my take. Have a read of Rough House Media's 10 Benefits of media training for charities.
Ann went on to write this short article about my work.
Good internal communication within a charity: Why it matters and how to do it right.
Good internal communication within any organisation is essential for any business that wants to be successful. This is no different in a charity. When well-informed and engaged, teams are more likely to be productive, creative, and loyal.
There are many benefits to good internal communication. For example, it can:
- Increase team morale and productivity
- Improve decision-making
- Reduce staff turnover
- Foster a sense of community and belonging
- Enhance service delivery
So how can you create a culture of good internal communication in your charity?
- Be clear and concise. When communicating with staff or volunteers, ensure your messages are clear and easy to understand. Avoid jargon and technical terms that your audience may not be familiar with. As a dyslexic initials can be difficult for me.
- Be consistent. Communicate regularly with your teams and use the same channels for all of your messages. This will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page, even if the page is virtual.
- Be open and transparent. Be honest about the charity's goals, challenges, and successes. This will help to build trust and create a sense of shared ownership.
- Make it flow in both directions. Don't just talk at people, listen to them too. Ask for their feedback and suggestions and be open to their input.
- Use a variety of channels. Don't just rely on email or intranets to communicate with them. Use a variety of channels that are appropriate for your audience. Several charities that I have worked with had staff who did not use computers or social media and so a printed newsletter that could be shared in staff rooms worked really well.
Having a digital trustee to champion engagement is a great way to drive good communication.
Good internal communication is an investment that will pay off in the long run.
Using social media for your charity
Here are some tips on how to get the most out of social media for your charity:
- Define your goals. What do you want to achieve with your social media presence? Do you want to raise awareness, generate leads, or drive donations? Once you know your goals, you can tailor your content and strategy accordingly.
- Choose the right platforms. Not all social media platforms are created equal. Some platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, are better for reaching a broad audience, while others, like LinkedIn and Instagram, are better for connecting with specific groups of people. Consider your target audience when choosing which platforms to focus on. You might want to run some test campaigns on different platforms to see which platform performs best.
- Create engaging content. People are more likely to engage with content that is interesting, informative, or entertaining. Make sure your posts are well-written, visually appealing, and relevant to your target audience.
- Be consistent. The best way to build a following on social media is to post regularly.
- Interact with your audience. Social media is a two-way street. Don't just post content and then disappear. Take the time to respond to comments and questions, and encourage your audience to engage with you.
- Use social media analytics. Most social media platforms offer analytics tools that can help you track your progress and see what's working and what's not. Use this data to adjust your strategy as needed.
Social media can be a powerful tool for charities. By following these tips, you can use social media to raise awareness, generate support, and drive donations.
Here are some additional tips that may be helpful:
- Use hashtags to help people find your content.
- Run contests and polls to generate excitement and engagement.
- Partner with other charities or organisations to reach a wider audience.
- Use social media to promote your events and fundraisers.
- Use social media during an event and feed it back during the event to create greater engagement.
- Don't forget to tell people about the event afterwards.
- Make it easy for people to donate to your cause.
With a little effort, you can use social media to make a real difference in the world.
Over the years I have been fortunate to receive a number of lovely recommendations. As you will see from the following I had my work cut out to help the board find a solution to their problems and turn the organisation around.
Autism Hampshire was introduced to D’Arcy by one of our existing trustees and was the successful candidate that we appointed to the role of Interim CEO.
He took over an organisation that had significant issues:
- High staff turnover
- Low morale
- Disjointed SLT
- Uncertainty as to viability of organisation
I am delighted to say that D’Arcy addressed all these issues and so much more so that today the organization has:
- Clear future path
- United SLT
- Better processes and procedures, especially around governance & finance
- Lower staff turnover
- Architect of what has proved to be the single most successful negotiation with commissioners in the history of the organisation.
He leaves us having more than completed the brief he was given. Some of the attributes and values that he has shown:
- Highly personable
Importantly as Chairman I appreciated the working relationship that D'Arcy and I built up over the time together.
Thinking of joining a Charity Board?
Effective charity Trustee Boards will be clear on how effective their governance is. If you are thinking of joining a board you might like to ask the following questions;
• Purpose and values: Do the charity's purpose and values align with its mission? Are they clearly articulated and understood by all stakeholders?
• Governance structure: Is the charity's governance structure effective and efficient? Does it provide appropriate oversight and accountability?
• Board of trustees: Are the trustees of the charity qualified and experienced? Do they have the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively govern the charity? How will your skills fit-in and complement the board?
• Risk management: Does the charity have a robust risk management framework in place? Are risks identified, assessed, and managed effectively?
• Financial management: Does the charity have sound financial management practices in place? Are its financial records accurate and up-to-date?
• Transparency: Is the charity transparent about its activities and finances? Does it provide regular reports to its stakeholders?
• Accountability: Is the charity accountable to its stakeholders? Does it respond to their concerns and feedback?
These are just a few examples of questions that can be used to assess good charity governance. The specific questions that are asked will vary depending on the size, complexity, and mission of the charity. However, by asking these questions, you can gain valuable insights into their governance practices and help you decide if you want to join the board.
Here are some additional questions that you could ask;
• How are decisions made at the charity?
• What are the charity's policies and procedures for managing conflicts of interest?
• How does the charity ensure that its resources are used effectively and efficiently?
• How does the charity measure its impact?
• How does the charity communicate with its stakeholders?
• How does the charity engage with its community?
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