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.

Judging the Inaugural Charity Governance Awards

Charity Governance Award

I was delighted to present the “Board Diversity and Inclusion Award” at the Charity Governance Awards ceremony on the 12 May 2016 to Leap Confronting Conflict, a charity that works with young people to manage conflict and to reduce violence in communities.

 

This inaugural award recognises excellent governance and true commitment to diversity. Nominees were judged on their efforts to attract a broad range of trustees and then support trustees to participate fully, along with a broader culture which welcomes different opinions. The well-deserved winner, Leap, is led by young people’s passion and insight, and has high standards of governance and board scrutiny.

 

Hosted by The Clothworkers’ Company in partnership with New Philanthropy Capital, Prospectus and Reach, the event was held in the City of London’s lovely historic Clothworkers’ Hall. It opened with a thought provoking keynote speech by BBC broadcaster and journalist, Edward Stourton.

 

A great evening and wonderful opportunity to shine a spotlight on challenging diversity issues within the Charity sector

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.”

A Fresh Prespective for the Board

British Lung Foundation logo On Tuesday 24th November I was invited to speak to the Board of the British Lung Foundation, a charity that funds vital research to save and improve the lives of people with lung disease.

At their ‘away day’ in London, we spoke about the importance of good governance and the vital role they have as trustees in upholding the organisation’s vision and embedding good governance across the organisation.

As an objective outsider I enjoy adding a fresh perspective and giving insight into different approaches that organisations can take to model their values, enhance their performance and deliver the mission.

 

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.

 

 

It’s Good to Talk …Social Investment

Social InvestmentOn Tuesday 9th June I took part in an informative Round Table hosted by Big Society Capital in Fleet Street, London.

 

The topic for discussion was social investment and it offered a couple of very interesting case studies of non profits that had used social investment to generate growth.  It was a useful reminder for me of the effectiveness of the variety of social investment instruments, as we discovered at Scope during my Chairmanship, where we used loan finance, venture philanthropy and a Social Bond to serve our mission.

 

The different ways that non profits use social finance to deliver their goals and increase their impact was particularly inspiring – and that was one of the key themes coming out of the morning: focus on impact to get the best out of it.  For me, the role of the Chair is key.  Chairs need to keep their Boards focussed on the organisation’s vision and mission to ensure that risk is minimised and return maximised.

 

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.

Rethinking an inclusive approach

Revitalise LogoOn the 24 March I was delighted to be able to facilitate a Board Strategy session for Revitalise. Revitalise is an established national charity that provides short breaks and holidays for disabled people and carers.

The board session was lively and provided a useful opportunity for board members to discuss and think through what makes for an inclusive Revitalise offering; what does inclusion really mean in the context of their vision, mission and values?

For me, it was rewarding seeing board members enthusiastically sharing ideas about how they could deliver more inclusive services in order to enhance the great work Revitalise does. I’m looking forward to hearing how their thinking develops in future.

 

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.