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The Charity Governance Code –Principle 3: Integrity

8th December 2021

The Charity Governance Code –Principle 3: Integrity

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 third part of the series, Kirsty turns the spotlight on integrity.

It’s imperative that charity leaders show the highest levels of personal integrity and conduct – and that’s at the heart the Principle 3 of The Charity Governance Code.

Delivering the charity’s purposes for public benefit should be at the heart of everything the board does – even when a board’s decision might be unpopular.

Let’s break it down…

What does Principle 3 - Integrity mean?

  • The board must act with integrity.
  • This means that it adopts values, applies ethical principles to decisions and creates a welcoming and supportive culture which helps achieve the charity’s purposes. The board is aware of the significance of the public’s confidence and trust in charities.  It reflects the charity’s ethics and values in everything it does. Trustees undertake their duties with this in mind.
  • The integrity principle is one of the main focuses of the Charity Governance Code update which occurred in December 2020.
  • The update indicated the importance of safeguarding responsibilities of the charity as part of its governance.

Why is it required?

  • Acting with integrity allows the charity’s purpose and its beneficiaries to be at the forefront of everything the charity does. It ensures that the reputation of the charity sector is protected and that trustee duties are being fulfilled.  
  • Charity leaders can achieve this by:
    • Showing the highest levels of personal integrity and conduct. This applies when acting in capacity as a board member or otherwise.
    • Creating a culture in which the charity’s values are supported and are at the forefront of every decision.
    • Behaving and implementing policies to be adopted which are consistent with the values of the charity.
    • Setting aside all personal opinions, interests and loyalties when acting for the charity.
    • Making decisions objectively which do not take into account personal views in order to act in the best interests of the charity and further its purposes.
    • Remain independent in decision making to ensure that the best structures and decisions are made for furthering the organisational purpose.
    • Ensuring everybody who comes into contact with the charity is treated with respect and dignity.
    • Creating a safe and supportive environment.
    • Understanding and addressing any issues which may damage the charity’s reputation, public support for its work or the ability of the charity to deliver its aims.

How can Higgs LLP help?

  • We can help advise and create a code of conduct fit for purpose for your charity:
    • This can be used to create appropriate values and culture for the charity;
    • This should help the trustees to comply with their legal and regulatory requirements.
  • We can create a standards and ethics policy:
    • This will set out the expected behaviour of the trustees, staff and volunteers when they are both acting within their role and otherwise;
    • This can encourage a positive public perception of the charity which can assist in acting in the best interests of the charity.
  • We can create a safeguarding policy:
    • This will allow trustees and staff members to understand their safeguarding responsibilities;
    • This will assist in creating a culture in which all persons connected to the charity feel safe and respected;
    • This will set out processes for safeguarding risks to be checked and managed;
    • This could set out training requirements for trustees, staff and volunteers to ensure they understand their responsibilities and feel comfortable using and applying the policies.
  • We can create a conflicts of interests/ loyalties policy:
    • This will allow the board to identify and have processes for dealing with real and perceived conflicts of interest and loyalties;
    • It will assist trustees in understanding their disclosure obligations;
    • It could detail the policy on how to address any gifts or hospitality the stakeholders receive.
  • These policies all help to implement integrity into the charity’s governance. The policies should be regularly reviewed to ensure that they are fit for purpose and are the most appropriate methods of achieving the charity’s aims.

 

Additional tips

  • Following the Nolan Principles – the seven principles provide guidance as to the content which could be included in any code of ethics created by the charity. It ensures that public perception of the charity sector is upheld in order for organisations to act in the best interests of their beneficiaries.
  • The Charity Ethical Principles also provide insight into the way in which trustees and other persons or organisations a charity has any connection with should act. These principles allow the charity to create a culture which is appropriate for its purpose.

For help and guidance, contact me on 01384 327322 or kirsty.mcewen@higgsllp.co.uk

 

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