Checklist: Does your charity need to exist?

By governance expert Ruth Lesirge

Ruth Lesirge
Ruth Lesirge

In difficult times, the debate about whether there are too many charities resurfaces. There is currently much talk about mergers as a way of protecting the cause, resources and users.

Sam Younger, chief executive of the Charity Commission, has said that many charities are set up by "those passionate about the way they do things". However, in some cases there is also a reluctance to see the organisational entity disappear.

Trustees give their time and skills because they have a commitment to the cause and believe they can best contribute through board membership. Their work is frequently an asset to the organisation.

However, one of the requirements of good governance is that trustees remain sufficiently objective to recognise when a strategic rethink is required. It might be triggered by the realisation about shortcomings in the quality or quantity of provision, or by changes in the external environment that threaten or severely compromise effective delivery of the mission.

It therefore behoves trustees to ask themselves whether the interests of their beneficiaries are better served by giving their resources to, or sharing them with, another organisation.

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