Charity sector figures have clashed over whether there should be more people with charity sector experience on the Charity Commission’s board.
The debate on Twitter came after the appointment earlier this week of two new board members for the commission: Joanne Prowse, chief executive of the Phone-paid Services Authority, and Imran Gulamhuseinwala, chief executive and chair of Open Banking.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is tasked with making appointments to the commission's board. In a statement on Monday, the Charity Commission welcomed the regulation and digital expertise the two candidates brought to its board.
But critics said the board was almost totally without any direct charity sector experience, which raised questions about the Charity Commission’s ability to regulate effectively.
Debra Allcock Tyler, chief executive of the Directory of Social Change, said:
I’m sure they’re lovely people. But once again folk appointed who don’t appear to have substantial charity backgrounds - therefore more people who don’t understand the sector they are supposed to be regulating. I wonder if they despise charities too? https://t.co/1EAd983PUO— Debra Allcock Tyler (@DebAllcockTyler) January 21, 2020
Helena Holt, chief executive of Devon Air Ambulance, added:
To me it seems the board has a total lack of respect for the sector and the expertise within it. Would be interested to know if the ratio of industry experts to inexperienced others that sit on other regulatory boards is similar. Or is charity singled out?— Helena Holt (@hgholt) January 22, 2020
Russell Findlay, chief executive of Speakers Trust, pointed out:
For me there is a theme of undervaluing the capabilities in the charity sector .. my career has spanned the corporate and third sector and the leadership skills developed in the charity sector are widely underrated - at times also by those in the sector. Something for @ACEVO ?— Russell Findlay (@russellfindlay) January 22, 2020
Andrew Purkis, a former commission board member, said:
Nobody is saying that experience of chties is "all" we want on the CC Board but some significant experience is essential, esp when the Chair's is minuscule. It is right to point this out which does not exclude working with the CC as best we can.— Andrew Purkis (@AndrewPurkis) January 23, 2020
Duncan Shrubsole, director of policy and communications at the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, mused:
You want a range of skills but you do need some experience of sector you're regulating! According to website biogs (may be incomplete) only 1 Commissioner has much experience of charities & 2 others little bit. GMC or FCA would expect relevant experience so should @ChtyCommission— Duncan Shrubsole (@duncanshrubsole) January 23, 2020
Keiran Goddard, formerly of the Association of Charitable Foundations, said:
Fair point.— Keiran Goddard (@keirangoddard1) January 23, 2020
But one might equally ask why it consistently and laboriously falls on the sector to ameliorate the structural decision-making ( and unevidenced public utterances) of its own regulator.
Others were more accepting of the changes, and argued that a diverse range of experience on the board was needed.
Elizabeth Chamberlain, head of policy and public services at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said:
Is experience of charities all we want to see on the @ChtyCommission board? I don't think that is the case: as for our own boards we should be aiming for a diversity of skills and experience. Also having someone with data/digital expertise is rightly a priority.— ElizabethChamberlain (@ncvoliz) January 23, 2020
Perhaps instead of lamenting their lack of experience in charities we can offer to help them understand the sector and our organisations?— ElizabethChamberlain (@ncvoliz) January 23, 2020
Roberta Fusco, director of policy and engagement at the Charity Finance Group, said:
Isn't best practice that Boards should also reflect beneficiaries? To be guided and informed by the people and organisations you exist to guide and regulate.— Roberta Fusco (@RobertaCFusco) January 22, 2020
Caroline Fiennes, director of Giving Evidence, said:
Because people who do understand the sector don't apply? I was interested in applying last time around, and a sector bigwig, whom I respect and asked, said "do you gave a death-wish?"!!!— Caroline Fiennes (@carolinefiennes) January 21, 2020