Getting governance right

Getting your governance structure right, taking time to understand the dynamics of Board relationships and regularly reviewing your governance processes are fundamental to the success of your organisation.  CCE’s governance support and review service offers nonprofit organisations and their trustees the opportunity to draw on our unparalleled range of expertise and experience to help achieve the highest standards of governance.

Our experienced consultants specialise in nonprofit governance. We have worked with many boards from different sub-sectors at different stages of development so we understand how different approaches work in different contexts and we tailor our approach for each client’s unique circumstances and resources. We don’t just talk about boards - we serve on them and understand the reality.

The test of a first class board governance review is two-pronged.  First it must provide the trustees with a road map for substantive improvement and second is that it must give the Chair some uncomfortable moments.  I am pleased to say that the CCE review met both objectives.

Sir Kenneth Olisa, Chair, Shaw Trust

Current challenges in governance

Boards are being tested as never before in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic and the inequalities being surfaced by the Black Lives Matter movement. For many trustees, this will be the first time they have had to deal with a major crisis; often having to respond to far greater need but with reduced resources. Governance practice is often seen as slow to change but in 2020 - in the ultimate test of a board’s ability to maintain organisational resilience - many trustees have adapted swiftly in order to provide rapid, timely and decisive responses. Many boards have moved to shorter, more focussed virtual meetings (often better attended than when in person), focusing on the key risks and indicators of performance that will allow trustees to understand how the organisation is faring and making many more decisions than usual in the context of a rapidly changing internal and external environment.

How we can help

Governance and board effectiveness reviews

We offer a variety of reviews, based on our in depth, tried and tested assessment and evaluation framework - adapted for each review we undertake - which enables us to hone in on the key aspects of governance that will make most difference to future effectiveness. We are regularly commended for our depth and value for money.

Reviews can range from a full review across the key governance areas, to a review of a particular area or a light-touch ‘refresher’ assessment following an earlier full governance review. We can support you to reflect on how your board is navigating the current turmoil and responding to the many challenges and opportunities you face; we will explore what can be learnt; and what might be retained to support future effectiveness including agile decision making and the impact on structure, composition and practice. We can support you to implement practical ways to drive improved diversity and inclusion from the top of the organisation.

Board development workshops

Aimed at medium sized non-profit organisations and covering key governance topics, we can offer a range of exploratory and incremental workshop sessions (currently held via Zoom) over an agreed period, which would particularly benefit chairs, trustees, chief executives and those who fulfil a governance function in their organisation.

Topics might include:

  • Trust as a bedrock to senior top team relationships
  • Exploring future complexity
  • Agile as a response to complexity
  • Critical thinking and cognitive challenge
  • Generative thinking

Benefits for the organisation include:

  • Driving organisational change
  • Developing new knowledge and generating new thinking about governance
  • Enhancing governance skills
  • Gaining the optimum balance between governance and operational requirements

Bespoke, targeted interventions and support

We offer tailor-made services and support to help with specific governance-related issues that non-profit organisations may encounter. This might include help with an away-day, a board training or information session, support for strategic planning, exploring a board’s approach to risk and finance, support at major change or other key organisational transition points, coaching for Chairs, or specialist support for the key partnership between Chair and Chief Executive. We have recently developed an in depth approach to audit board skills and help you determine optimum composition for the future in response to the strategic challenges you face.

Governance knowledge exchange

We have a range of knowledge sharing resources on governance-related issues including our Building Better Governance guides, written by CCE consultants Fiona Ash, Caroline Copeman and Christine Fogg, which cover the essentials of nonprofit governance, and our current series of essays by Caroline Copeman on the topic of Challenges in Contemporary Governance. We regularly share models and examples of good and emerging practice with our clients as part of our commitment to knowledge transfer and exchange.

I was very impressed how well you really understood how we do things in a very short period of time, and really appreciate the very practical set of observations and best practice recommendations which, once actioned, will make a very positive difference.

Chris Hall, Chair, Hospice Isle of Man

Our approach

We are committed to the principles of good governance. Our assessment and evaluation framework is rooted in relevant theory and good practice from the various Codes that describe effective governance and is regularly refreshed to take account of new learning and emerging developments in governance thinking. We learn from each review and adapt our materials accordingly.

We are delighted that the soon to be refreshed Charity Governance Code has focused attention on continuous improvement in governance of nonprofit organisations and recognise the difference it is making to governance in our sector.