Tackling poverty in Milton Keynes

I’m honoured to have been appointed a Trustee of Milton Keynes Community Foundation this year.  Our ‘Vital Signs‘ report highlights the strengths and challenges for Milton Keynes and a key issue for us is poverty.  On 28th March we held a workshop to explore how the voluntary and community sector in Milton Keynes can work together to address the challenge.  There was some really useful and innovative thinking and it was good to meet people from around the sector.  I am looking forward to seeing progress on the issue going forward.

Rewarding good governance

It was my very great pleasure and honour once again to present an award at the Charity Governance Awards on Wednesday, 24th May. The event was held in the imposing and beautiful Clothworkers Hall in the City. This year, my fellow judges and I judged one category: Managing Turnaround. The level of dedication and commitment of the Trustees in each of the entries was quite phenomenal. The winner was Off The Record from Bristol, a mental health service and movement for children and young people aged 11-25 who live in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.  You can read the story of their turnaround here.

How to Balance the Roles of Chair and CEO

AOC logo

 

On 20th September, along with the Chair of Community Action:MK Sheila Thornton, I was delighted to present at a joint event in Milton Keynes. This Association of Chairs (AoC) and CA:MK event was sponsored by Grant Thornton and hosted in a large and airy meeting room at Spinal Injuries Association HQ.

Entitled ‘A Quality Double Act’ the focus of the evening was to better understand the differences in the roles of the Chair and the CEO, and importantly how to achieve a balance between the two. We also explored the key challenges organisations are facing at the moment.

This event provided a great opportunity for local Chairs and Vice-chairs as well as executive staff of non-profit organisations to learn more of the work of the AoC, the resources they provide to support Chairs, and the resources available locally to non-profits. Click here to find out more about the AOC.

 

Does the Not for Profit Sector Need Disrupting?

NFP Interchange 2016

At the last NFP Interchange debate in London the consensus was that yes, the sector certainly benefits from disruption. There were calls for charitable organisations to take the initiative and shake up on their own accord, or risk being shaken by outside forces.

 

The most recent of these thought provoking discussions brought together a diverse panel of experts to speak about disruption and change in their organisations as part ofGrant Thornton’s NFP Interchange programme.

 

Leon Ward, trustee at sexual health charity Brook, expressed the view that to create an agile organisation better able respond to disruption required ‘diverse voices’ to challenge the status quo on a board.  Having a range of ages and backgrounds represented as trustees enables freer thinking, disrupting accepted norms.

 

If the charity sector does not embrace change then the “shape of the playing field will be changed around us” said Paul Boissier, chief executive of the RNLI, who drew on Darwin to highlight his point, saying: “It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent but it’s the one that is most adaptable to change.”

The Chair and Chief Executive’s Relationship… Getting it Right

Trustees Week

On the 2 November 2015 I was delighted to speak at a panel discussion at this year’s NCVO Trustee Conference in London – the launch event for  Trustees Week. The focus of the discussion was the relationship between the Chair and Chief Executive; an important relationship that can make or break the effective governance of a charity.

 

I shared the platform with three other fascinating speakers, Simon Morris, CEO of Jewish Care, and Nicola Grinstead and Anita Tiessen, Chair and CEO of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.  We spoke about our experiences of building productive relationships between Chair and Chief Executive – the ups and downs of managing the personal and organisational interface.

 

It was a lively session with insightful audience questions, expertly facilitated by Sue Pearlman, NCVO governance consultant and chair of Community Action Hertsmere.

 

 

New Chair Role for Swanswell

swanswell

Last month I was delighted to be appointed as the new Chair of the Board of Trustees at Swanswell, a national charity that aims to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use.

 

I look forward to helping the Board of Trustees shape their strategy. Swanswell is a vibrant organisation that has exciting plans for the future. It is a real honour for me to have this opportunity to work with them to develop those plans and to bring them to fruition.

 

Swanswell’s Chief Executive Debbie Bannigan said; ‘I’m pleased to welcome Alice Maynard to Swanswell as our new Chair. Alice brings a wealth of experience to the table which I know will help us achieve our aim of a society free from problem alcohol and drug misuse.’

 

To find out more about Swansell’s work click here.

The Silly Season

 

Oh dear it’s that time of the year again…the summer lull when there is a dearth of news about so the press takes to criticising charities. Last year Chief Executives’ pay came under assault and this year it seems the focus is on charity fundraising.

The Daily Mail recently published a personal attack on the lifestyles of four Fundraising Directors that was uncalled for. The real disappointment for me, however, was that the organisations involved did not step up in response to support their staff and their practices.  I would have liked to see a comment or two from their Chairs, perhaps outlining the impact a good Fundraising Director has on the ability of the charity to serve its beneficiaries well and the ratio of donated funds to the cost of generating these funds.  Most charities do not need to be defensive – but we often appear so by not responding proactively.  So come on Chairs and Boards: be proud of what you do and tell the world!

Sharing Experiences at the Annual Trustee Exchange

On the 21 April I was honoured to be asked to share my experiences as Chair of Scope at Civil Society Media’s eighth annual Trustee  Exchange at America Square Conference Centre in London.  My keynote speech charted the ups and downs of steering governance through a period of rapid change post 2008.

 

No matter how turbulent the internal or external environment, a Chair needs to ensure the Keynote Speakerorganisation is fulfilling its purpose and serving all its beneficiaries.  I believe that during uncertain times and rapid change it is even more important for the Board to hang onto the organisation’s Vision, Mission and Values – and a key role for the incumbent Chair is to support the Board to hold its nerve in the midst of ambiguity and uncertainty in order to deliver the Mission, in accordance with the Values, eyes focused firmly on the Vision.

 

However, the challenge for the outgoing Chair, who no longer has any influence or standing (and rightly so), is to trust the Board will continue doing just that, regardless of its changing circumstances.

Competition for Charities & Not for Profits at the NFP Interchange: Gold or Silver?

NFP InterchangeIt was a great privilege to speak at last week’s NFP Interchange event with fellow panellists’ Roger Harrop, Sir Tom Shebbeare and Moonpig founder, Nick Jenkins. We enjoyed hearing each others’ views on how to succeed in the not for profit sector.

We were in agreement that a win-lose approach was not the most effective. My own recipe for success involves underpinned a clear vision, a strong team and disciplined passion – passion underpinned by strategy. The session rounded off with some incisive questions from the audience.

Thank you to our hosts Grant Thornton UK and their partners, the Guardian, and to Carol Rudge who ably steered the lively debate.

 

Spotlight on the Charity Chairs Conference

Chairs Conference

The chair’s leadership role is vital in driving good governance in the organisation, but it can be a lonely at the top. This is why the Charity Chairs Conference this week in London was such a useful forum for charity chairs to get together in constructive dialogue and discuss the challenges and issues they face.

 

The conference was a year long culmination of the fantastic Lord Mayor’s Charity Leadership programme, which has provided a much needed spotlight on leadership within charities and brought together the City and charity chairs. It has also helped make a practical difference to chairs in charities through a programme of training, forums and thought leadership.

 

I was delighted to be on the panel discussing the Diversity of Boards chaired by Lord Gus Macdonald.  The lively panel discussion helped illustrate the many different types, makeups and sizes of non-profit Boards and provided useful ‘food for thought’ for delegates and panel members alike.