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Governance Code for the Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations

04 November 2016

On 27 October, a revised version of the Governance Code for the Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations was published following a year-long review. Principles-based and adopted on a “comply-or-explain” basis, the Code comprises a set of recommended practices for community, voluntary and charity boards.

Developed by a group of organisations representing the community, voluntary and charity sector in Ireland, over 1,200 organisations have signed up since the Code was first published in 2012, with 300 listed on the Code’s register as fully compliant and a further 900 registered as ‘on the journey’ to compliance.

In late 2015 the Governance Code Working Group (GCWG) undertook a review of the Code to determine if it could be improved. After a widespread consultation, the Code was reissued with its original principles and practices intact, although changes have been made to the adoption processes. The primary finding from the review was that stakeholders needed to be empowered to hold boards declaring adoption of and compliance with the Code to account and so Code Stewardship Guidelines have been issued which are designed to empower members, dependents, donors, funders, etc to hold boards to account.

The main points raised by the review are as follows:

  • The Code’s adoption journey requires a determined commitment and ownership by a board and takes a minimum of two years to complete
  • The majority of adopters interpreted the recommended practices to be rules with a minority seeing them as principles and practices to help a board set and oversee the achievement of their vision and objectives
  • Boards should be held to account for the veracity of their comply-or-explain declarations
  • These declarations should be open to verification and ratings by their stakeholders
  • Calls for the Code to be turned into mandatory rules should be resisted as that will only reduce governance into box-ticking compliance by board members with little affinity for the rules
  • Good governance requires a board to consciously align the organisation’s culture and values with its strategy to ensure it achieves its objectives in an ethical manner
  • The Code’s five principles and their recommended practices have proven to be very workable and as valid today as they were in 2012.

Details of the revised Code can be found at www.governancecode.ie