Here board members may or may not be members of the organisation, and are appointed to provide particular knowledge or skills to the board. Recruitment of board members in this way should be treated with the same care as recruitment of staff. 

So it will be the role of the board or committee to carry out effective governance. Governance is making sure things happen and not management, which is making things happen. It includes:

  • Setting and monitoring strategic aims and direction
  • Ensuring there is strong management of its money, assets and reputation
  • Having effective systems, safeguards and controls

Mike Hudson in Managing without Profit has a useful diagram to show the different focus of governance and management. 

We have a useful factsheet about the essential responsibilities of a Board which although talks about charities is useable for all groups. 

Charities can make use the Charity Governance Code which is nationally recognised practical tool to help charities and their trustees develop high standards of governance. It is based on seven principles:

  1. Organisational purpose

The board is clear about the charity’s aims and ensures that these are being delivered effectively and sustainably.

  1. Leadership

Every charity is led by an effective board that provides strategic leadership in line with the charity’s aims and values.

  1. Integrity

The board acts with integrity, adopting values and creating a culture which help achieve the organisation’s charitable purposes. The board is aware of the importance of the public’s confidence and trust in charities, and trustees undertake their duties accordingly.

  1. Decision-making, risk and control

The board makes sure that its decision-making processes are informed, rigorous and timely and that effective delegation, control and risk assessment and management systems are set up and monitored.

  1. Board effectiveness

The board works as an effective team, using the appropriate balance of skills, experience, backgrounds and knowledge to make informed decisions.

  1. Equality, diversity and inclusion

The board’s approach to diversity supports its effectiveness, leadership and decision-making.

  1. Openness and accountability

The board leads the organisation in being transparent and accountable. The charity is open in its work, unless there is good reason for it not to be.

We have a simple checklist and we have found this more detailed worksheet. This framework can be easily adapted to voluntary and community groups that are not charities.

The law firm Bates Wells has produced a useful governance framework for CICs.

Julia Unwin has produced a useful summary of five roles of governance:

  • Support
  • Stretch
  • Scrutiny
  • Stewardship
  • Strategy