Governance challenges for Irish charities in 2022

In this article Diarmaid Ó Corrbuí, CEO of Carmichael, discusses some of the challenges charities are facing this year in the Irish region.

There are a wide range of governance challenges and developments for charities to be addressed in 2022, but the major ones in my opinion, are the following;

  • Grappling with the ‘new normal’
  • Recruiting and retaining staff and volunteers
  • Succession planning, trustee development and recruitment
  • Compliance with the Charity Governance Code standards

Grappling with the ‘new normal’

The removal of COVID-19 restrictions has triggered a slow but steady flow back to the office for many organisations. Charity trustees need to think through and plan for their future working operating model that will need both appropriate flexibility and sustainability. They will need to organise staffing rosters to ensure continuity of delivery of quality services and support. Another key consideration will be how to maintain the ethos, culture and values of the charity in an era of hybrid and remote working. The board needs a clear, thought-through strategy and plan for how the ‘new normal’ will operate in their charity and this will need to be communicated to and be bought into by staff, volunteers and beneficiaries.

Recruiting and retaining staff and volunteers

The recent phenomenon of the ‘great resignation’ means that employers are being faced with the additional challenge of trying to recruit workers in a very competitive environment. The charity sector is also impacted by this and also face the additional challenge of not being able to compete against the higher salaries being offered by for-profit and public sector organisations. The USP for charities is their purpose, the difference they make in society, their values and their ethos. Charities need to communicate and demonstrate these points of difference in the battle to recruit and retain staff and volunteers.

Succession planning, trustee development and recruitment

Charity boards will also need to look at is own composition in terms of skills, diversity and tenure. They need to objectively assess what changes to the board’s composition and skills development are required to enable the board to effectively address the evolving challenges facing their charity and ensure its future sustainability and success.

Compliance with the Charity Governance Code standards

Compliance with the governance standards goes to the heart of how the charity operates, how it engages with its beneficiaries, how it oversees and manages its resources and how it provides accountability and transparency to its stakeholders. Many charities have put in considerable effort in getting ready for compliance with the Code, but there are many other charity boards that have not properly engaged in the compliance process or ignored the Code and its implications. Charities need to be prepared for a random compliance audit by the Charity Regulator. The Regulator has commenced the process of selecting charities for audit to verify the charity’s actual compliance with the Code’s standards in terms of performance and effectiveness.

The ongoing task for all charity boards is to assess the challenges and opportunities for their charity and develop the responses and strategies to ensure that they are effective, impactful and sustainable.

Diarmaid Ó Corrbuí, CEO, Carmichael

In May 2022, Diarmaid will be a panellist at a breakout session titled, ‘Governance challenges for charities, and update on the Charities Amendment Bill’ at CGIUKI's Conference Ireland 2022.

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