How to run a charity : lesson 4
By clive on Dec 01, 2009
About 6 months ago I wrote about the connection between a lack of proper IT governance and a missing value in /etc/system here. For a UK charity good Governance is the goal of the charity. Like me you probably thought it was to help people. Nope, this would be a positive side effect from the point of view of a trustee. If effective administrative and financial governance is not in place the rest of the function of the organization goes south as a consequence. The important people(staff and volunteers) depend on a solid foundation of organizational governance to be able to deliver real value to clients.
As an individual I am quite good at writing a process and getting my head round where process has gone wrong, but the anarchist in me struggles to follow process unless it has some scope for creativity/innovation (probably explains why I get on with Kepner Tregoe Rational Process). This means I can often determine what has wrong and put it right, but don't ask me to enforce the standards in the 1st place. Myers-Briggs gets me off the hook, but means you don't want someone like me as your accountant. In C.A.B. terms this is OK we have an excellent manager and a number of trustee's who has some of the opposite character traits.
It is quite important to understand why Governance is sooooo important and that organization like the Charity Commission exist. If you have got here, you can use Google, so searching for "charity" and "corruption" makes the primary reason quite obvious. There is also a secondary reason where charities are often run by very well meaning people who are very capable in their area of expertise, but many not have sufficient administration and organizational skills to run the charity effectively. A set of standards and processes such as an external audit of the accounts and annual reports is there to help such people. and yes, it does add significant overhead and there is a lot of arse covering. There is also a need for funding bodies be able to prove that their money is being spent as was agreed in the funding application. The C.A.B. has an additional level of supervision where each case is checked by an experienced supervisor and I suggest this is one of the major strength of the implementation of the C.A.B. model.
At a high level the Governance needs of a Charity are similar to that of a Pension Fund Trustee which are very well documented and enforced you will be pleased to hear.