Last week we gathered at the Charity Governance Awards—hosted by the Clothworkers’ Company—to celebrate good governance in the charity sector.

The event convened a mix of small, medium and large charities, surrounded by passionate philanthropists, social investors and a range of other civil society actors, all there to champion the importance of good governance by recognising some inspiring charities.

NPC’s mission is to inspire and support the charity sector to be as effective as it can be. Central to this mission is our work to support charities with their governance and in improving their ability to help the people they serve. For this reason, we co-organise and, help judge the three Improving Impact awards.

Signalling change

What was striking about the event was the wide range of charities represented there. In a sector hampered by problems of diversity and equality in its people, power and places, the organisations nominated challenged that.

There was a mix of charities run by a wide range of people with different backgrounds, abilities and focus areas. A multitude of sizes from zero paid staff to charities with 444 paid staff or 500+ volunteers. There were charities from every part of the UK—from the Scottish Highlands and Northern Ireland to Bristol, and everything in between. Small, community-based, organisations working closely with their grassroots. There is power in convening all these voices from across the UK. It is a key part of the process to create a charity sector that is more focused on people and communities.

Women first

For the first time in the history of the awards the Improving Impact (4-25 staff) category was jointly won by two women’s organisations: Derry Well Women— which offers health and social care services to women of all ages in a welcoming, relaxed, safe and confidential space, and Muslim Women’s Network (MWNUK) who work to improve social justice and equality for Muslim women and girls.

We spoke to Nazim Akthar, Chair of MWNUK after winning the award to find out what they’ve done to improve their impact and what it means to their organisation:

How does it feel to have won?

It feels amazing to have won this award! MWNUK has existed for 15 years ​and in that time, the board have worked very hard and taken many decisions regarding strategy, evaluation and measuring success. It is great to receive this validation, from the experts and leaders of the charity sector.’

‘We have a yearly evaluation of our helpline. Not everyone would commit to such regular reviews but it is very important to continuously evaluate yourself. We have to make sure that even when we have had success and achievements, we are still asking ‘what can we do to improve? What can we do to make our services more efficient and useful?’. Winning this award proves that this is worth doing.’

 What is the next step for your organisation after tonight?

 ‘We’re very passionate about our cause, we want to keep growing so we can ​reach and help as many people as we can. We want our helpline to reach more people ​so no one is suffering in silence. At the moment we are servicing roughly 1000 people a year. We want to make sure that number continue​s to grow.’

‘I would love to come back in the next five years, actually, and say we are now getting 10,000 calls a year, because that means we are ​doing what we should be as trustees and providing help and support ​to those who need it ​. It means we are stopping forced marriages. We are stopping FGM. At the end of the day, we do this work to make sure we are stopping abuse and empowering women. Our aim is to free the world from abuse and injustice and that is what we will continue to work towards.’ 

The winners in the other Improving Impact categories were:

  • Green’s Windmill Trust in the (0-3 staff) category. The Trust furthers the educational and public activities of the Green’s Windmill Science Centre, promoting George Green’s scientific reputation and preserving the UK’s milling heritage.
  • YMCA North Tyneside in the (26+ staff) category. They support disadvantaged young people, particularly those who have experienced homelessness.

Are you next year’s winner?

If you want to know more about how you can improve your charity’s impact, the free online resources, peer learning networks, and grant funding available through the Inspiring Impact programme would be a good starting point. Or you should read our four pillar approach—an introduction to measuring impact.

We look forward to being part of the awards next year and encourage you all to sign up in October 2019 when registration opens.

This year’s shortlisted and winning are:

Improving Impact 0-3 staff

Improving Impact 26+ staff

Improving Impact 4-25 staff  

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