Changing charity leadership: our new governance plan

Some of our thinking that informs this plan

Why it matters

How a charity is led – its board and governance structures – should be a big deal. In theory, those things are about the leadership of the entire organisation:

  • they set the tone for the charity’s direction and running
  • they continually push the operation, challenging it to do everything it can to fulfil its stated purpose
  • they represent the communities the charity is working with, and make sure its work is actually serving the intended beneficiaries

In theory. But, too often, boards don’t live up to this billing – instead becoming just a managerial tickbox exercise, to make sure the quota of meetings is met and the accounts get filed on time.

We want to do better.

We’re lucky to have a supportive board who are working with us to do this. They’re not the typical “male, pale and stale” board – but they want to do more, and so do we. Because it’s in everyone’s interest for charities to have strong boards and governance.

So here’s our plan:


Dynamic workshops, with a changing mix of expert voices

We will move the primary focus of our governance activity to workshops rather than board meetings – where artists, communities and industry work alongside board members to directly influence and support Strike A Light’s approach. 

These workshops will then be followed by shorter board meetings to ensure oversight and that we have financial and legal due diligence.

Each workshop will focus on a different topic, in an area where Strike A Light needs the support and guidance of a breadth of experience to inform our planning. They will include topics which would usually be covered in a board meeting or trustee working group.

For 2021, these will be:

  • Art, charities and politics: How do we make world-changing art which is relevant to the real world and doesn’t shy away from the issues affecting communities we work with, whilst ensuring that we work within the legal restrictions relating to charities and political campaigning?
  • Fundraising: How do we diversify our income and develop individual and corporate giving in a way which isn’t at odds with Strike A Light principles?
  • Financial management: Are the processes we have in place fit for purpose? Particularly as we plan for the future and our next NPO application
  • Artists and communities in Gloucester: What’s happening in Gloucester now? What’s needed? What are people interested in? 

Each different workshop will involve quite different groups of people. There will be a combination of trustees, freelancers, arts professionals, professionals from other industries, community members and artists.

The size, make-up and dynamics of each group will change to best reflect the workshop topic. 

Rather than a single, static board who feel they have to drive the strategy and make decisions on every topic, this arrangement provides dynamic support and skills for the governance of Strike A Light.

It also means we can give people a range of options about how they engage (which we hope will make it easier for more people to get involved in our governance):

  • Workshop attendees can be paid for their time e.g. freelancers, or can choose to donate their time as a trustee would
  • There’s flexibility to the time commitment. Some people might attend multiple workshops if they feel they can contribute to several topics, but some people may only attend one workshop
  • Workshop formats can vary to suit attendees and topic e.g. one small group discussion or a structured activity with breakout sessions etc. 
  • We can vary timings, venue, format etc to suit the group
  • Options for digital or hybrid meetings give much greater opportunities to work with people from across the country or even internationally

Transparency

Participants in the workshops will be recruited through an open process and we will also ask people if they would consider joining a workshop if there are particular perspectives we need.

We will also invite influencers and advocates to observe or participate in the workshops. This allows us to engage with groups such as local councillors or funders in our governance, without creating conflict of interest.

We will provide information on our website for how people can get involved and share both the process and the outcomes of the meetings. 

This makes a process which typically takes place behind closed doors open to anyone interested in influencing Strike A Light’s governance.

Recruitment

The workshops act as a way of building relationships with different people, who might not normally consider becoming a trustee.

This setup allows people to understand how Strike A Light works, meet trustees and demystifies the governance process.

Workshop attendees can also choose to observe the subsequent board meetings to see how that process works. All of this then acts as informal, low pressure board recruitment.

Interested in being part of it? Talk to us!