Promoting good governance in charities across Scotland

  • The Good Governance Award is a quality standard for Scottish charities and is recommended by the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR)
  • The award provides charities with a framework for good governance and guidance on policies and procedures
  • Zurich supports the Good Governance Award and can help charities looking to improve their governance procedures

Proof of good governance is essential for charities looking to secure funding, compete for major tenders and to comply with legislation and regulation. But what does good governance look like and how can charities offer proof of strong policies and procedures?

The Good Governance Award has been designed to answer these questions; providing a quality standard for Scottish charities through a clear, structured approach to assessing and improving core governance. ­­The award was developed in partnership with the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) and is the only quality standard that it recommends.

How the Good Governance Award works

Charities apply for the award by uploading an e-portfolio split into different criteria. Key areas covered include:

  • Charitable status
  • Charitable purpose
  • Planning and delivering services
  • Reporting
  • Recruiting and managing staff and volunteers
  • Managing finances and resources
  • Handling information
  • Marketing and communications.

“The award covers a broad range of criteria,” explains Dr Beth Curzon, Good Governance Award Manager. “It’s a quality standard, not a self-assessment, so we give the charities the framework to start with, which then gives them an idea of where they are and what gaps they need to fill.

“We then structure support to help them complete the award. It’s a really thorough process and can take up to a year.”

Providing peace of mind

The main benefit for charities who complete the award is the peace of mind that they are compliant with OSCR regulations.

Beth says: “As trustees, to demonstrate good governance and embed it into your organisation, it is important to be up to speed with everything happening in your charity, and to understand your legal responsibilities and your duties to your charity.

“A lot of organisations have the basics in place, like a finance policy, but because they’re often really busy, other areas might not get addressed until they become an issue.

“With the award, we make sure that every possible area of charity governance is covered, so that trustees are in a better position to deal with any problems should they arise.”

The award also helps charities to clearly identify any weaknesses or areas for improvement in their operational activity, while also helping to promote a culture where everyone works towards the same shared vision.

Beth says: “We had four groups that did the pilot last year and one of them said it really made them think about how their stakeholders communicate with one another, and how they can work better collectively to achieve their goals.

“Another group were going through a period of organisational change. They found the Good Governance Award framework really useful in helping them manage that change and get everything they needed in place to move forward.”

Foundation programme for smaller charities

The award is open to charities of all sizes, provided they have at least one staff member. For smaller charities with no employees, there is a foundation programme, Introduction to Good Governance, which provides a framework of 12 criteria (the full award has 66).

Zurich is proud to support the Good Governance Award and can provide guidance and support to charities looking to establish strong governance procedures.

Gordon Wilmott, Head of Charities and Social Organisations, Zurich, says: “The Good Governance Award is an exciting and positive development for the sector in Scotland; allowing smaller charities to invest in a structured way to improve their governance procedures whilst enabling local authority commissioners to quickly identify those charities whose operational practices meet a certain standard.

“Add to that the award’s ability to help build confidence with the public and it seems a win-win for all parties. We are delighted to be able to support the award and recognise holders with discounted insurance products.”