A Code of Practice for Good Governance of Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations in Ireland.
Statement from the Governance Code Working Group (May 2019)
The Governance Code for Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations (CVC Code), launched in 2012, has become the de-facto standard for excellent practice in corporate governance for nonprofit organisations. It was developed, maintained and promoted by a unique coalition of leadership organisations in the non-profit sector that worked together with a small number of like-minded organisations and individuals with relevant expertise from the private sector.
In the five-years from 2009 to 2014, when the sector awaited the setting up of the Charities Regulatory Authority, the Governance Code provided volunteer board members with high quality information about how to ensure their organisations were run professionally, behaved transparently and delivered with impact. Funders and regulators acknowledged the high standards the CVC Code embodied and supported its roll out across both charities and the wider non-profit sector, in particular across the sports sector.
Reviewed and updated in 2016, the Governance Code project is a shining example of charities, voluntary organisations and community groups working together and leading in the setting of high standards for how their organisations are run. The project has been delivered and sustained by the Working Group members and their organisations voluntarily committing their time and resources. Over 2,000 charities and non-profits have adopted or started the journey to adopt the Governance Code – the sector showing its overwhelming commitment to transparency and good governance.
In 2018, the Charities Regulatory Authority took on responsibility for establishing the standards for good corporate governance for charities and in November 2018, it published a new Charities Governance Code with which all charities will be expected to start reporting their compliance by 2021. The members of the Governance Code Working Group were pleased to see their work substantially inform the new Charities Code – for example its basis as a principles-based code and its proportionality to name two of the CVC Code characteristics that have transferred over to the new Charities Code.
The publication of this new Charities Governance Code provided the opportunity for the members of the Governance Code Working Group to review the CVC Code’s future in the changed context. Organisations following the CVC Code, funders and other stakeholders were consulted with and the feedback strongly indicated that having two codes – a sector based original CVC Code, and a new Charities Regulator’s Governance Code - would cause confusion and be unhelpful. However, feedback was also received that the non-profit organisations that are not charities, particularly sporting groups, would be ill-served if the original CVC Code simply disappeared.
After deliberating and reflecting on this feedback, the members of the Governance Code Working Group have made the following decisions:
- The original Governance Code for Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations (CVC Code) has fulfilled its intended purpose successfully – therefore the maintenance of this Code as a ‘live’ standard for organisations will not continue. Instead, it will be retired and all charities will be steered towards the Charity Regulator’s Governance Code.
- Sport Ireland have been particular champions of the original CVC Governance Code and the 10-year National Sports Policy, published by Sport Ireland in 2018, has the objective that all funded bodies would be compliant with the CVC Governance Code. Consequently, we are delighted to have agreed with Sport Ireland that it will take over the code as a Governance Code for Sport. Sport Ireland believes that the CVC Code will allow them to continue the journey to embed the highest standards of good governance across sport bodies.
- For non-profits that are neither charities nor sporting bodies, we believe that the Charities Governance Code represents good practice standards that could be applied to them, and we would advise them to consider adapting the standards and practices in the Charities Governance Code for their specific needs.
- We will adapt and leave the website www.governancecode.ie available as a legacy website and as a source of resources for those that want it. We will make clear in the text that, as of end of June 2019, it will not be supported in an active way. The list of organisations that are ‘fully compliant’ and ‘on the journey’ will be removed from end of May 2019.
Ten years since we started this journey in 2009, we can say that our job is done and pass the mantle to the Charities Regulator and also to Sport Ireland.
The members of the Working Group are proud to have led the movement around improved governance for community, voluntary and charitable organisations in Ireland, and played a role in building trust in our sector at a time when it was particularly needed.
To those of you who have engaged with us over the last ten years, achieved compliance with the CVC code, started the journey, and responded to our consultations, thank you. To Arthur Cox solicitors, especially Philip Smyth, and Sheila Cahill Consulting - founding and former members of the Working Group who each played a significant role in the original drafting and subsequent review of the Code, your contributions were invaluable. To Pobal, Sport Ireland and the Department of Education (National Training Fund) who have acted as champions and/or part-funders of some direct costs of materials and training related to the CVC Code over the years, we are very appreciative of your support. To all other stakeholders who have supported this journey to embed excellent practice in governance within the sector, your support has enabled us to achieve success. It’s been a pleasure working with all of you to improve the governance of charities, community and voluntary organisations in Ireland. You can consider yourselves part of an impactful movement for change.
We will formally retire the CVC Code and celebrate our achievements at a reception at the end of the working day on Monday July 8th (details to follow). We would love for you to join us and celebrate what has been delivered of the sector, by the sector, for the sector.
From the members of the Governance Code Working Group – May 2019:
Business in the Community
Charities Institute Ireland
The Corporate Governance Association of Ireland (CGAI)
Disability Federation of Ireland
Good Governance Solutions