12 steps for an effective governance review

As lead consultant for NCVO Dan Francis has conducted scores of governance reviews in many different types of charity. Here he shares his tips for getting the best from a governance review.


You’d be hard pressed to find a Chair who would disagree with the idea that good governance is fundamental to a charity’s success. Few would argue with the Charity Governance Code recommendation that larger charities should undertake regular governance reviews. Such exercises can undoubtedly play a vital role in ensuring compliance, improved effectiveness and fostering a culture where everything works towards fulfilling the charity’s purpose.

Here is the ‘but’… governance reviews can also be time consuming, costly exercises which create shiny reports which sit on shelves – or more accurately in inboxes, gathering virtual dust. Unless done properly, reviews can make trustees feel better about themselves for doing the right things but not really make very much difference at all. With the benefit of hindsight, I know I’ve written a few reports which have ended up in this category.

When it comes to governance reviews, planning and collective commitment are the two things which make the difference between a tick box exercise and meaningful change.

Below are the 12 steps I recommend a charity Chair takes to create the ingredients for success before, during and after a governance review process.

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