Don’t leave it until things go wrong to think about these issues. By then it’s too late.

One in every five enquiries received by the SCVO Information Service is about governance. From how to deal with an awkward and disruptive trustee, to what to do about a treasurer who has run off with the funds, most of the challenges encountered by voluntary organisations and charities have their roots in good governance, or the lack thereof.

So how can you ensure your organisation is on top of issues around governance and trustees?

Start by recruiting the right trustees for you and helping them to understand your organisation, which I looked at in my last blog.

Make sure your trustees are motivated and informed. Regular training and trustee away days will help ensure they’re fully aware of their roles and responsibilities.

Also, think about how to manage their performance with regular appraisals. Here are some things you could ask them to think about:

  • Are they are making a difference on the board?
  • What are they contributing in terms of skills and experience?
  • Do they feel able to speak out and get involved at meetings?

A good chair should be able to help ensure that everyone feels comfortable and involved at meetings.

But remember, for an organisation to work effectively there should be a good healthy working relationship between the chair, the trustees, the chief executive and staff.

If you’re finding it difficult to get all your trustees together regularly, have a think about how you can use new technology such as Skype and video conferencing. But make sure your constitution allows you to do this.

Finally, don’t leave it until things go wrong to think about these issues. By then it’s too late.

Give your board a governance health check, and think about how you will deal with conflicts of interest because they can and will arise – that’s life!

It’s good to have a register of trustee interests, which will include any commercial interests by them or their close family, and their involvement in other charities and funding bodies. What’s important is that you have policies and procedures on how to deal with them.

In short, good governance is essential if your organisation is to run effectively.