Trustees’ Week – Highlights from NCVO Conference

Author's position
Advice Worker
Article date
12 November 2018
Primary interest
Voluntary sector
Happy Trustees’ Week!

This week we recognise the incredible contribution and dedication made by approximately 700,000 volunteer trustees across the country.

Trustees are volunteers who take on ultimate legal responsibility for a charity and set its strategy so that it can best achieve its charitable objects. Reading has over 900 voluntary and community groups with hundreds of volunteer trustees.

A big thank you to you all!

I had the pleasure of attending the NCVO Trustees Conference last week – the theme this year was ‘Good Governance, Great Organisations’. Here are the highlights and things to look out for in the world of governance.

Code of Ethics – Charity Ethical Principles

Charities unfortunately hit the headlines this year in relation to safeguarding concerns. Oxfam (in relation to failing to protect its beneficiaries) and Save the Children (following concerns around employee harassment). In response, the Office of Civil Society and other bodies such as NCVO recognised that there is a need to provide more support to charities in this area, thus leading to a new Code of Ethics.

The Code is not mandatory but will be recognised as good practice and builds on the pre-existing Nolan Principles (7 Principles of Public Life), which many a trustee or anyone in public service will recognise. The Code of Ethics goes that bit further and promotes good ethical practices across the whole organisation. This is undeniably a meaningful addition, and will help anyone involved in a charity to live its values, whether you’re a volunteer, employee, trustee, a donor or anyone at all working with or for the organisation. The aim of the code is to integrate the four principles (below) into the culture of a charity. Charities are encouraged to implement the Code by keeping the four principles in mind when going about day-to-day service delivery and working with anyone across the organisation.

The Code of Ethics is designed to complement the existing Charity Governance Code, which is implemented at trustee level. The Four Principles in the Code are:

  1. Beneficiaries First
  2. Openness
  3. Integrity
  4. Right to be Safe

Organisations that are already operating well will find that the tools will help them to define their structure. It’s not about badly run charities, it’s about building confidence in what you’re already doing. Going forward, this will help to rebuild the public trust in charities, and coupled with positive messages to counteract the negative media about the sector, we can truly celebrate the great work done by many volunteer trustees and the voluntary and community sector!

You can read the full draft Code of Ethics here, which is expected to be published by the end of the year. If you have positive stories which you would like to share, you can post them here.

Resources for Trustees during Trustees’ Week