Around this time last week I was one of nearly 200 people gathered in the magnificent Clothworkers’ Hall in London to recognise and celebrate good governance in the charity sector. There has been much doom and gloom about the fortunes of the sector over the past year, and much of the fault for recent scandals has been laid at the door of trustees. So it is refreshing to be writing about this topic from a more positive perspective.

Celebrating good charity governance

NPC has worked with the Clothworkers’ Company over many years to support and promote good governance, something which is critical to our mission of improving charities’ impact. Governance doesn’t sound glamorous, but it can make or break a charity. So it is great to be involved in an initiative that recognises this and is trying to do something about it.

Organised by the Clothworkers’ Company, in partnership with NPC, Prospectus and Reach, the Charity Governance Awards seeks to celebrate outstanding governance in charities both small and large. There was a great atmosphere and the six award-winners went home with a trophy and £5,000 for their organisation.

And the winner is…

Some of my NPC colleagues were involved in judging the ‘improving impact’ categories for different sized organisations. Among the smallest charities (0–3 staff), trustees of Robert Thompson Charities impressed with their attention to detail, their proactive approach, and the way they used community consultation to inform the charity’s development. In the medium category (4–25 staff), the winner was Sport 4 Life UK. The board has placed a real focus on improving their measurement and evaluation following a change of strategic direction, and are seeing the results. Among larger organisations (more than 26 staff), the winner was St Cuthbert’s Hospice, which benchmarks itself against national statistics and data on other hospices, allowing the charity to put its own results into context.

There were some excellent runners up, too—such as Family Action. Their board has made the brave decision to invest reserves in a team to sell their successful mental health support models to CCGs. ‘Embracing opportunity and harnessing risk’ was the theme of this category, and is a subject we will be returning to in an upcoming event for trustees. Awards were also given for boards managing turnaround and diversity, the latter being an area where much of the sector (NPC included) still has a long way to go.

Congratulations also to the other winners and shortlisted charities: Scarborough and Ryedale Mountain Rescue, TalentEd, Kinship Care Northern Ireland, National Lobster Hatchery, Freedom from Torture and Money Advice Trust.

We hope that by showcasing good practice, the awards will inspire and encourage trustees up and down the country to be more ambitious about their charity’s impact.

Until next time

Entries for next year’s awards will open in October. If you think an important category is missing then let us know. An e-book drawing out lessons from this year’s entries will come out in the summer. And if all of this has inspired, join us at the first of this year’s trustee seminars, also organised with the Clothworkers’ Company, on 11 July: ‘Be brave, be bold: Ambition in a time of uncertainty’.

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