Case study: Scope seeks change with consent

The cerebral palsy charity consulted its members on changes to its board and its mission.

The challenge

For the past 18 months, cerebral palsy charity Scope has been consulting its members about modernising its governance system. The changes it is proposing are the most comprehensive in its 50-year history.

Stephen Bowen, executive director for external affairs at Scope, says the charity would like to modernise its board by reducing the number of trustees from 24 to 15. It also wants to limit trusteeship to six years, broaden out trustee recruitment and improve trustee training. "These are standard best practice measures now," says Bowen.

Scope also wants to simplify its membership involvement to one member, one vote and update its objects to reflect the fact that its mission is about equality for all disabled people, rather than people with cerebral palsy only, as it currently states.

The process

Scope organised a number of roadshows to consult its members and explain the rationale behind the intended changes. It also worked with governance expert Dorothy Dalton to guide it through the review. The proposals were then put to the vote at its annual general meeting in October.

The outcome

Seventy per cent of Scope's members voted in favour of the changes, but the charity's constitution requires 75 per cent of members to agree if alterations are to be made.

"We didn't get the majority we needed, but 70 per cent is still encouraging," says Bowen. "It shows that the changes we are proposing are in line with what members want and that there is a healthy debate."

Bowen says the board and senior management will reflect on the results and consider whether they need to alter any of the proposals.

"However widely you consult, those changes are still complex," he says. "We could explain ourselves even better. There's always room for improvement."

The proposals will be re-submitted at an extraordinary general meeting in February. Bowen says he is confident Scope can obtain the majority it needs to approve the changes. Only time will tell if he is right.

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