Charity Governance

How to build a charity board assurance framework

Of interest to those involved in charity governance.

Introduction

Within many boardrooms, especially those responsible for charities where trustees are unpaid, it can be challenging to be assured that the entity is being run properly and meeting its strategic goals. In fulfilling their legal duties, trustees must seek information from the senior management team to assure themselves that the charity is being run in a sustainable, professional and intended manner in furthering its charitable objects. Some trustees may feel a disconnect from their work and the activities of frontline staff, and occasionally may require additional assistance to satisfy themselves that the charity is delivering and meeting its legal obligations. The role of the board is to focus on strategic matters, but compliance and oversight requires a certain amount of insight into operational matters. The balance can be delicate, but is absolutely essential for the smooth running of the charity.

Purpose of this guidance

Even where the board and senior managers work well and complement each other, there can be occasions where trustees need more information to assure themselves that actions are implemented and are having the anticipated outcome. It is not desirable, nor feasible, for trustees to be ‘hands-on’ in every aspect of the charity’s operations, but staff should provide the board with the information required to provide assurance that everything is as it should be.

By assurance, we generally mean independent and validated (internally or externally) evidence. Assurance within the boardroom requires trustees to be given evidence that decisions are being implemented and strategic aims are having the intended outcome. Reassurance, conversely, is the act of confirming someone’s opinion or impression and restoring confidence. The quality and veracity of board information is key to enabling trustees to provide challenge and stewardship. It is therefore important that trustees get assurance rather than reassurance when discharging their legal duties.

This document includes:

  • Benefits of a BAF                          
  • What do we want the BAF to do?  
  • Assurance mapping                        
  • BAF implementation              

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