Good Governance Case Study
York House Community Centre
York House Centre is an established and well used Youth, Community and Arts Centre in Stony Stratford.
It is both a charity and a charitable company limited by guarantee and is governed by a board of eight trustees, supported by 4 part time members of staff.
The board has a healthy gender and age balance but currently has no representation from the BAME community. Many of the trustees are long serving and almost all of them are semi-retired or retired. Each trustee has a ‘portfolio’ area of work that they are responsible for including marketing, staffing, infrastructure and IT.
York House Centre were fortunate to be approached by local company, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, who wanted to support a local community organisation as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility, whilst gaining development for their staff. It was the professional business-like and openness of the running of the centre, plus the centre’s relationship with other organisations in the town, which attracted MBFS to invest a huge amount of time and effort. The collaboration has resulted in a number of physical improvements to the building, and enabled professional review of documents and policies, marketing support and preparation of a new long term business plan.
We spoke to Ken Daniels, Chair of the trustees of York House to get his top tips for improving governance:
- Consider having defined roles for each trustee, ideally in an area they have experience or professional expertise in
- Develop leadership by focusing on strategic decision making. Trustees are often busy people so will appreciate smooth systems for information sharing and decision making
- Ensure you have a skilled treasurer who can work with any staff to oversee financial management and prepare accounts
- Create transparency through regular communication with members, users and supporters
- Keep meetings short by ensuring proposals are circulated well in advance and everyone knows what options for decision making are being proposed
- Consider trying to break down the perception that being a trustee is time consuming and that you need knowledge and experience. This should help with recruitment
- Bear in mind the importance of succession planning so that knowledge and experience can be passed on and not lost
- Provide formal or in-house training
The board find it essential to regularly assess their vulnerabilities in order to inform their planning. Their current assessment looks like this:
- Competition from other organisations, both commercial and charitable.
- Changes in demographics and economic climate, affecting usage,
- recruitment of volunteers.
- Changes in economic climate affecting availability of grants and other
- sources of income.
- Demographics affecting, for example, BAME volunteers and trustees.
- Difficulties in recruiting younger (ie under 50s) trustees and volunteers,
- thereby threatening succession planning.
- Perceptions about what is involved in being a trustee or volunteer,
- including knowledge, experience and time.
- In the case of York House Centre, the age and condition of the Grade II
- listed building.
|We know that it can be a huge job keeping up with all the latest best practice around regulation and compliance so thanks to funding from MK Community Foundation, Community Action: MK have developed a self assessment tool based on the Charity Code of Governance that you can use whether you are a charity or community group, large or small or anything in between.
The tool is a relatively quick and easy online form for your board or committee to assess how you are performing in regards to the seven key principles of Good Governance. After completing the form, Community Action: MK will tailor advice and resources for you to use to improve your score.
We are also able to promote your trustee and committee member roles via our volunteering platform. If you require more substantial support, we are happy to talk to you about a bespoke package of support. Please email us.