Charities - what and who are we here for?

These are two important questions that are seldom considered. Some charity trustees seem to never quite get to the core of their organisation’s purpose. The level of detail in the responsibility of stewardship can be all-consuming meaning that the fundamental questions of why the charity exists and who it is for are given insufficient consideration. But boards do not exist to micro-manage a charity; instead they should complement management by asking a different set of questions – this is true governance.

Good governance indicators

  • In addition to fiduciary duties trustees set aside time to consider “what exactly are we trying to accomplish?”
  • The existence of a mission statement that complements the charity’s vision and strategic plan. Even if no mission statement exists then every trustee would be able to articulate the rationale for the activities being undertaken and how performance is being measured. For example, can they identify the charity’s three most important objectives, and whether they are achieving them?
  • Trustees that engage and, where appropriate, consult with beneficiaries and other interested parties. Sufficient involvement of stakeholders in developing the charity’s strategy and confirming its underlying values. 
  • A charity that is able to consider and measure the impact that it has on its beneficiaries. 
  • Trustees that are able to horizon-scan, and recognise an external perspective and wider context within which their organisation operates. 

Download the first chapter of the charity governance report.