2) Governance Awaydays

Responding to reduced resources- Governance Away day  

There are many pointers for a range of community based organisation reeling from reduced resources and seeking a new way forward.  Trustees and Board members will be aware that they have a duty to deliver a number of essential functions. These duties include:

“Setting and ensuring compliance with the values, vision, mission and strategic objectives of the organisation, ensuring its long term success”.

A primary duty is to deliver a Value for Money Standard which requires Boards to undertake:

“Rigorous appraisal of all potential options for improving Value for Money, including the potential benefits in alternative delivery models”.

As such, Trustees should consider whether they are delivering their vision in the most effective way; asking at the same time – can it be done differently and via a different model? This is where we can help with a tailored away-day.

As independent outsiders but committed to your mission we can poses difficult questions that should be addressed. We can help Trustees make difficult decisions and help evidence your organisation has considered its future in an appropriate manner.

So what should Trustees do?

We can help set up an away-day. Work through the basics such as:

  • What is our vision and values and can we continue to deliver them?
  • What major new or emerging challenges exist for us?
  • How can we respond to them?
  • Do we truly provide value to service users?
  • Will our existing model allow us to deliver effectively moving forward?
  • Could we do more in these difficult times by working with others?
  • If so what might that way of working look like?

It may be that one outcome from the above is a review of your mission, vision and values. It may be that previous activities are terminated and new ones instigated or that operations are streamlined etc. We can talk in detail about the different operating models including:

  • Asset based approaches
  • Funding led
  • Contracting with the public sector
  • Social Enterprises
  • Partnerships
  • Transfer of Engagements
  • Amalgamation
  • Joining or forming group structures
  • Cost sharing groups.

As Charles Darwin put it survival depends on adaption to a changing environment. Openness to change is the key. Some Boards say they are happy to talk to others “merging” in some way with them or they deliver good value but that their neighbours do not. It requires Boards and executives to work together in a constructive way and take a long hard look at your business. It requires external assurance and validation. You need to understand the risks you face and how mitigate them. You may need to review and change your strategic direction of travel. It is about the strength of your business in the future.

So, what can Cara Community Services do to help? We take a holistic approach to any request for help when considering the options. We appreciate there is a need to fully understand the organisation first. We positively engage with all stakeholders both internally and externally.

What do board members and key staff think are the priorities for the organisation? Where are the strengths and weaknesses? Are the views backed up by strategic documents and financial statements? The future is very much linked to value for money strategies, so are the costs much higher than others providing similar services in the area? If they are, can they really be justified?These are some of the issues that we work through. Further work may be  needed internally before the organisation is in a position to seriously consider alternatives.

Our approach allows us to take into account areas that an organisation will want to protect and this may relate to particular services or may be focussed around culture and values. Delving into the organisation establishes the criteria where options could be considered viable as well as deal breakers.

Whatever the outcomes of the process either refined current direction, a potential merger, sharing services or some degree of partnership working, these are likely to have wide ranging implications for the organisation. Part of the process will look in detail at measures that will need to be put in place to ensure that day-to-day operations can continue with minimal adverse effects on all concerned parties.

The future governance may also need to be considered. It will be essential that the board has the knowledge and skills available to thoroughly assess and evaluate any options, review its own strength or be willing to seek independent advice. The board’s responsibility is to ensure that the organisation’s mission is safeguarded, and so it should take a dispassionate view of options. It is an essential part of good governance. All this takes up time, energy and resources, but it is a task that some organisations will have to undertake shortly to continue delivering efficient and effective services.

So if you would like us to provide a tailor made package for you organisation, arrange specific training or simply discuss the issues please contact us. Our discussions are free and as always confidential.

Please contact John Brennan on 01803852270 or email john@caracommunity.co.uk.