Charities should introduce formal appraisal procedures for their chairs and board members, according to a report published today by Acevo.
Realising the Potential of Governance: The Report of the Acevo Governance Commission was produced by a group chaired by Derek Twine, former chief executive of the Scout Association, and including Sam Younger, chief executive of the Charity Commission, Anne-Marie Carrie, former chief executive of Barnardo’s, and Alex Swallow, chief executive of the Small Charities Coalition.
The report says that every board should ensure that "at least every two years it sets aside time to reflect on its own performance and functioning as a team. The results of these appraisals should be used to make necessary changes and improvements, to inform the creation of appropriate training programmes and to guide board member renewal and recruitment."
The report also recommends that trustees receive a clear explanation of their responsibilities and those they have delegated to others, and says charities should set up a dispute resolution procedure for disagreements between senior people.
It also recommends using an open, advertised process to recruit trustees and setting up defined-term limits for trustees, staggered to ensure an appropriate rate of turnover.
The report also makes recommendations for the Charity Commission, including the introduction of a "good governance" kitemark and a re-examination of CC35, the commission guidance on governance of charity trading subsidiaries "with a view to better supporting trustees to understand and manage the potential conflict between the ‘director’ and ‘trustee’ roles".
It recommends that the government give charity trustees a legal right to take time off work for trusteeship, as happens for school governors and magistrates, and suggests that funders and commissioners should explicitly consider the strength of organisations’ governance arrangements as part of their assessment processes.
Twine said he hoped the report would help charities ensure that their governance "is ready for future challenges".
"Charities operate in a fast-changing environment and are under more pressure than ever to deliver improved outcomes with limited resources," he said. "This report puts forward a range of practical suggestions aimed at supporting the improvement and development of charity governance."