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10 ways the Select Committee on Charities report can help you make your arguments


The House of Lords Select Committee on Charities published its report, ‘Stronger charities for a stronger society’ in March 2017. The full report in PDF format can be found here.


The report sets out a list of recommendations for the public and charity sector in areas of governance and operation to help make charities stronger and more sustainable.


At Visionary, we’ve gone through the 100 conclusions and recommendations to bring you ten ways in which you can use the report to make your argument or justification to stakeholders be it grant-makers, public sector commissioners or even your own board of trustees.


Citing the report may give your argument that extra bit of objective credibility you need to persuade the other party.


Where you might choose to cite the report:

  • In grant applications
  • In meetings or negotiations with commissioners
  • In your board meetings
  • In your charity’s annual report
  • In your communication with stakeholders


The following paragraphs are taken from the report’s chapter ‘Summary of conclusions and recommendations’, pp.106 – 118.


1. Trustee Skills Audits

‘We believe that it is essential that charities regularly undertake skills audits of their trustee boards to ensure that they have the necessary capabilities to undertake their vital governance role. For large charities, this should be an annual occurrence.’ (Paragraph 8, p.106)


2. Trustee Inductions

‘Induction processes are essential so that new trustees have a well-established understanding of the charity and of their responsibilities. Trustees need to feel confident and well-informed in order to provide strategic direction, oversight and challenge. We welcome the inclusion in the Governance Code of appropriately resourced inductions for all new trustees.’ (Paragraph 10, p.106)


3. Website and Social Media

‘Accountability and transparency are essential for charities to ensure they function properly, deliver for their beneficiaries and retain the trust of the public. In order to respond to the greater expectations upon them, charities need to operate with a presumption of openness. We believe that it is important for all but the very smallest charities to have a simple website or public social media page to provide that transparency.’ (Paragraph 26, p.109)


4. Independent Evaluations

‘All charities should be seeking independent evaluation of their impact on their beneficiaries, in order to ensure that they are delivering for them and to demonstrate this to beneficiaries, funders and the public. The form of such evaluation may vary considerably, depending on the size of the charity and the type of work it is engaged in. We recommend that public sector commissioners assess such evaluation when awarding contracts.’ (Paragraph 30, p.109)


5. Impact Analysis

‘We welcome initiatives such as Inspiring Impact that seek to assist charities in demonstrating impact. We recommend that the Government and the charity sector continue to pursue initiatives to better understand and promote the impact of charities.’ (Paragraph 31, p.109)


6. Core Costs

‘Charities cannot operate unless their core costs are met. We recommend that public sector commissioners should be expected to have regard for the sustainability of the organisations which they commission to deliver services. This should include an expectation that realistic and justifiable core costs are included in contracts.’ (Paragraph 43, p.111)


7. Contracts and Commissioning

‘Tightly-prescribed contracts that dictate the process of delivery, rather than the desired outcome, can be the greatest inhibitor of innovation. We therefore recommend that public sector commissioners refrain from setting overly-detailed requirements for the mechanisms of service delivery.’ (Paragraph 45, p.111)


8. Volunteer Services

‘Funders need to be more receptive to requests for resources for volunteer managers and co-ordinators, especially where charities are able to demonstrate a strong potential volunteer base. We recommend that Government guidance on public sector grants and contracts is amended to reflect this and set a standard for other funders.’ (Paragraph 59, p.113)


9. Mergers

‘We believe that mergers can often be considered a measure of success and maturity, and a reflection of a charity keeping a proper focus on its beneficiaries. Staff, trustees and volunteers should reflect upon the possibilities for mergers and consult with their beneficiaries where opportunities may exist. Mergers should not be seen as a sign of failure.’ (Paragraph 64, p.113)


10. Digital Technology

‘The capacity of the charity sector to embrace digital technology varies considerably, and while some are at the cutting edge of the use of technology, others risk organisational stagnation and decay by not embracing it successfully. This is a risk to the charity sector.’ (Paragraph 70, p.114)

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