Good governance is essential for the success of any organisation, regardless of size or income.
Good governance is therefore essential for the success of your youth club.
What does 'governance' mean?
'Governance' is the term used to describe the role of trustees or management committee members in:
- setting the long term direction of your organisation
- determining the strategy you will use to get there (ensuring that policies and activities take you in that direction)
- ensuring the organisation is run in a way that is legal, responsible and effective
- being accountable to those with an interest or ‘stake’ in the organisation.
How does it apply to me and my club?
Whether your youth club describes its governing body as the management committee, the trustee board, executive committee or board of directors, it plays the same role – and that is what matters. Regardless of its title, it is the body with overall responsibility for governing your youth club, overseeing and controlling its management. Remember that governance is not necessarily about doing: it is about ensuring things are done.
Boards or management committees set the long term vision and protect the reputation and values of their organisations. So to make a difference your board or management committee needs to have proper procedures and policies in place. But it also needs to work well as a team and have good relationships within the organisation.
Your board or management committee plays a vital role in serving the young people and wider community which benefit from your youth club. They bring passion and commitment as well as skills and experience to your youth club
However, good governance runs throughout an organisation. So while the trustee board or management committee is responsible for good governance, they rely on many different people to be able to govern well – staff, volunteers, advisors and others with an interest or stake in the organisation (stakeholders).
Where do I start?
The key governance role concerns the controlling and directing of your organisation. To do this there must be:
- the opportunity to make collective decisions (meetings)
- a mechanism for the members (or stakeholders) to elect the committee (at the AGM)
- mechanisms for the members to influence decision making
- and in turn the committee needs to communicate decisions back to them
- a way to hold the committee to account
- and for the committee to hold staff (or the ‘doers’) to account.
There are many ways to do these things and great variety in how they are done. You will need to consider carefully what is best for your own circumstances.
An effective board or management committee will provide good governance and leadership by:
- understanding their role
- ensuring the delivery of your youth club’s purpose
- working effectively both as individuals and a team
- exercising effective control
- behaving with integrity
- being open and accountable.
These six principles are applicable to all voluntary and community organisations, including youth clubs like your own. It is the practice and procedures which will vary according to the size and needs of your organisation.
What's out there to help me?
Plenty of guidance exists to help trustees better understand their role and put in place practices to govern effectively. A good place to start is with Good Governance: a code for the voluntary and community sector. This sets out the six principles of good governance in voluntary and community organisations together with the good practice linked to each principle. It also highlights the relevant areas of law under each principle. Management committee members need to understand their legal duties as trustees. And if your youth club is also a charity, then, as charity trustees, your management committee or board members will also need to understand their duties in respect of Charity law and regulation.
More details about the legal duties of charity trustees are available on the Charity Commission website including detailed guidance on managing charity resources and how to manage risk.
Governance Pages, a website set up by the Association for Research in the Voluntary and Community Sector (Arvac), aims to bring governance related resources to committees of small voluntary and community organisations. The pages include a database of common questions about governance. There is also a support finder feature that helps you to locate appropriate sources of support. A dedicated search page also allows you to search for resources and information from a range of hand-picked sites. There are also a range of sample documents which you can adapt for your own purposes (e.g. job descriptions, recruitment documents and meeting documents).
The Trustee and Governance Information Centre, on the website of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, also includes a full range of information, publications, toolkits and other resources for trustees of voluntary and community organisations.
Charity Trustee Network (CTN) is the national charity for trustees. It provides opportunities for trustees to share knowledge and experience with each other, and signposts to information and services. It also runs the trusteefinder service on which you can search for trustee vacancies or post your own board or management committee vacancies. The trusteefinder service is supported by Volunteer Centres around the country as well as by YouthNet, which runs the national volunteering database through Do-it.