The Charity Governance Code – Principle 2: Leadership

12th November 2021

The Charity Governance Code – Principle 2: Leadership

Over the coming weeks, Kirsty McEwen in our Charity and Not For Profit team, will be taking an in-depth look at the core principles of the Charity Governance Code. Today, in the second part of the series, Kirsty turns the spotlight on leadership.

Every charity should be headed by an effective board that provides strategic leadership in line with the charity’s aims and values.

Why is it important?

  • Effective leadership will allow charities to adopt an appropriate strategy for effectively achieving its aims.
  • Focused and strong leadership will help charities achieve their organisational purpose.
  • Each member of the board should individually take responsibility for ensuring the charity has effective strategies in place for achieving the charity’s aims.
  • The board needs to collectively agree the best strategy and decisions to make to further the organisational purpose.
  • Every decision made by the charity should reflect the charity’s values and should aim to further the organisational purpose. The culture of the charity should be reflected in all its activities.

How can we help?

  • Leading the charity
    • We can advise on the processes which should be in place to formally record the boards functions
    • We can advise on whether the legal structure of the charitable organisation is fit for purpose.
  • Commitment
    • We can advise trustees on preparing for meetings and the time commitment required to ensure their role is performed effectively.

The recommended practice can change depending on the size of the charitable organisation.

The following recommended practice tips are appropriate for smaller charities:

Leading the charity:

  • If the charity has staff, the board should ensure there are proper arrangements in place for their appointment, supervision, support, appraisal, renumeration and, if necessary, dismissal.
  • If the charity has volunteers, proper arrangements should be in place for their recruitment, support and supervision.

Tips for best practice:

The board members should consider their actions whether acting in their capacity as trustee or otherwise. The reputation of the board should reflect the values and vision of the charity.

  • The chair of the board should have prime responsibility for ensuring the charity has appropriate priorities, structures, processes and a productive culture.
  • The board members should have role descriptions defining the responsibilities of the trustees. This ensures that each participant has a clear focus and role. The positions should be clearly differentiated from that of the chair and other officer positions.
  • The structure of the charity should be regularly reviewed to ensure that it remains the best fit for purpose. This includes reviewing the structure and relevance of any subsidiaries.
  • The board should agree values which it wishes to promote which underpin all activities and decisions. The values should be consistent with the charities organisational purpose.
  • The board should ensure that senior members of staff are confident and have channels through which it can provide necessary information, advice and feedback to the board.
  • The time commitment of board members and other senior members of staff should be made clear before nomination or appointment. This should be reinforced upon acceptance of nomination or appointment.
  • The board should be innovative and adapt based on the changing needs of the charity to achieve its purpose.
  • The board should also have the required expertise and experience to build a strategy which is best fit for purpose.
  • The board should consider the best interests of the beneficiaries and service users rather than the best interests of the organisation – both now and long term.
  • Communicate and listen to staff and volunteers – people are an organisation’s prime asset.
  • Utilise skill sets and make use of appropriate technology to maximise efficiency.

For advice on all aspects of charity law, from set up through to training and advising your trustees, contact me on 01384 327322 or





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