The governance of the voluntary and community sector - the starting point

Cornforth, Chris and Mordaunt, Jill (2004). The governance of the voluntary and community sector - the starting point. In: ed. Developing an Integrated Governance Strategy for the Vountary and Community Sector: volume of evidence. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: The Foundation for Good Governance, pp. 7–14.



This report on governance provides a framework
for thinking about how policy makers, funders,
regulators and advisers can all work with Board
members and staff to enhance the effectiveness of
nonprofit organisations.
It was commissioned by the Active Community Unit
(ACU) of the Home Office, in parallel with other
reviews designed to improve the capacity of the
voluntary and community sector, at a time when
the sector plays an increasingly important role in
the delivery of services using public funds. That role
has recently been investigated in two Government
reports, the Cross Cutting Review carried out by the
Treasury, and the Strategy Unit review of charities
and nonprofits.
Our report proposes actions of three types: some that
can be taken immediately, some that require further
discussion with key interests, and some integration
with the other ACU reviews. Taken together they
provide the starting point for an evolving strategy to
improve governance across the sector. We
recommend ACU chairs a group charged with the
responsibility for planning and implementing this.
Our focus is on governance as “the systems and
processes concerned with ensuring the overall
direction, supervision and accountability of an
organisation”. This is often taken to mean the way
that a Board, management committee or other
governing body steers the overall development of an
organisation, where day-to-day management is in
the hands of staff or volunteers.
Sometimes, of course, the committee and volunteers
are the same. They – like all governing bodies – have
to balance the interests of the organisation and
those they are trying to serve, while being conscious
of financial and legal responsibilities, and the
requirements of funders and other supporters.

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