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Association of Chairs September Newsletter

The Chairs’ Conference and our new Guide for Chairs: launching in London and Leeds 

The year-long Lord Mayor’s Charity Leadership programme culminates with a conference for charity Chairs in London on October 21st.  
Our Chair Ruth Lesirge will be launching our new Guide for Chairs, one of the first specifically focused on the Chair’s role. The Guide has been made possible thanks to the generosity of CCLA and the City of London Corporation’s charity, City Bridge Trust
You can find details of how to attend the Chair’s Conference here.
We will also be launching the Guide in Leeds on the morning of 4 November. If you want to attend please contact

Don't miss our November events

Our next events all fall in November

November 4th: our second Yorkshire event, launching our Guide for Chairs in Leeds
November 13th:  our next supper club - with Lord Adonis
November 18th: an evening panel discussion on “why do good boards sometimes make bad decisions?”

More details on our website:

Did you miss Luke Johnson?

Luke Johnson, serial entrepreneur, provocative newspaper columnist and serial not-for-profit Chair, was the guest at our supper club on September 22nd, generously hosted by Odgers Berndtson.    Luke gave an insightful and challenging talk drawing on his good - and not so good - experiences.  A lively discussion followed that covered topics including putting a greater emphasis on performance rather than just growth, the need to challenge executives more, the importance of avoiding mission drift and the value of getting more entrepreneurs to volunteer for non-profit boards.         
New leadership at the Association: founder Ruth Lesirge becomes Chair 

Our founder Chair, John Gladwin, has stepped down and from this month is succeeded by fellow founder Ruth Lesirge.  Trustee John Williams is becoming Vice Chair.
Ruth has been a driving force behind the creation of the Association. 
Picture: Ruth Lesirge and John Williams
For those who do not know Ruth, she is an experienced voluntary sector leader, previously Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation and also of the Retail Trust and a former Vice Chair of ACEVO. 
John Williams is a co-founder and former Chair of the communications consultancy Fishburn Hedges (now Fishburn).  He served as a Charity Commissioner for five years up to 2010, and has extensive trustee and Chair experience. John has been a trustee since February and will focus on our external profile. 
We hope you join us in wishing them every success in their new roles. 

Headlines from the Charity Commission Annual Meeting 

We sent Vice Chair and former Charity Commissioner John Williams to the Commission’s Annual Public Meeting to hear the first thoughts from new chief executive Paula Sussex, Chair William Shawcross and the executive team.
The main message was that the Commission is focusing increasingly on investigation and enforcement and will become a more “proactive” regulator, “preventing and deterring” with “less benefit of the doubt”: in the last year, it has opened 64 statutory inquiries, against just 15 the year before; and it has used its legal powers in investigations 540 times, against 216 the year before. This may prove a challenge to sustain – the Commission has suffered a 50% budget cut in real terms since 2007.

Our briefing on the new election campaigning rules 

We invited Caroline Cooke, head of policy engagement and research at the Charity Commission, to lead our first technical briefing on the new election campaigning rules following the passing of the Lobbying Act.  Caroline helpfully put the briefing in the context of the Charity Commission’s established guidance on overall campaigning (CC9) which you can read here in full. 
A summary of the briefing will appear on our website shortly. 

In Case You Missed It...

Becky Hill is the Third Sector Chair of the year

AoC Vice Chair John Williams helped judge this category in the 2014 Third Sector awards announced on September 18th.  Congratulations to the winner Becky Hill of Back Up.  Highly commended were Judy Dewinter, Myeloma UK and Heather Love, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.
You can read more about Becky and Back Up here:

Code of Good Governance no longer fit for large and complex organisations?

The sector’s code of good governance has been criticised for lack of rigour and for failing to assure funders and commissioners, by Rosie Chapman, former head of policy at the Charity Commission and trustee of the Charity Finance Group. She called for it to be updated with more emphasis given to stakeholders, transparency and accountability. You can read the article in civil society

What makes an effective board?

Blogging recently for the ICSA, Jeremy Cross, a leading leadership consultant, identifies three areas of behaviour key to board effectiveness:
  • A focus on tasks and relationships rather than the simply technical
  • Being more enabler than expert
  • focussing more on appreciating that critiquing
You can read more on the ICSA website

That ice bucket challenge seems to have delivered 

It has raised over £11m for The Motor Neurone Disease Association and Macmillan, with over 750,000 people individually donating through JustGiving: Read more here

And corporate partnerships may no longer just be for Christmas….

….Or at least charity of the (just one) year.  A new report says partnerships between companies and charities are becoming longer and worth more money to charities:Read more here

Good news to end on. 

Keep in Touch

We welcome any feedback on this newsletter and our plans. If you have any comments to make, questions or would like to contribute, please email trustee John Williams.

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We are an independent charity formed in order to help Chairs of social purpose and not-for-profit organisations with their unique task: leading their board in delivering the organisation’s aims.

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