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Research reveals key to improving charity governance

Survey of 500 charities pinpoints 20 drivers of excellence

Large charities should focus efforts to improve their governance on team working rather than changing their structures according to new research conducted by the Centre for Charity Effectiveness at Cass Business School (Cass CCE) and Compass Partnership.

Results from a detailed survey of the top 500 charities pinpointed the 20 key drivers of excellent governance. It found that a third of large charities had excellent governance arrangements, just under a half had good governance and a quarter had weaker governance with fewer key drivers in place.

Hierarchy of actions

The research concluded that 'there is no magic bullet' for improving governance - but that there is a hierarchy of actions organisations can take to strengthen governance. The foundations of effective governance are appropriate board and committee structures. Organisations then need effective processes to recruit people from sufficiently diverse backgrounds and with the required skills and experience.

The third tier in the hierarchy is the organisation of great meetings and the top tier is the establishment of behaviours that create strong and effective teams.

Greatest gain

The research found that those organisations that had the best behaviours also had the most highly rated governance. It also found that whilst appropriate structures, processes and meetings were essential, the greatest improvements in governance could be achieved by working on trustee behaviours including, team working, creating openness and trust, praising and challenging management and refining strategic focus.

Report author and Director, Compass Partnership Mike Hudson said: "Given that most large charities report that they plan to further strengthen their governance, our research shows that greater efforts should often be put into developing board behaviours."

Professor Paul Palmer, Director, Cass CCE said: "This work demonstrates the value of evidence based research and sheds new light on actions trustees need to take to strengthen governance."

Delivering Effective Governance - insights from the boards of larger charities. For more information Debbie Emerson of Compass Partnership on 01628 478 561

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