Don’t worry, we haven’t turned into narcissistic astronomers overnight: we’re encouraging charities to look closely at their board, to master the essential board discipline of examining how their charity is shaping up in the here and now, and peering into the future to plot the charity’s way forward. It may be easy for charities to agree on the benefits of self-reflection but less on where to start or how to go about doing this. This is where ‘BBT’ - the Charity Commission’s Big Board Talk: 15 questions trustees need to ask - comes in handy. It sets out the main areas that trustee boards should regularly consider to make sure they’re on track.
The BBT was originally produced to help trustees when the world’s finances turned red in 2007; when demand for charities’ services went up and resources down. We think the BBT is actually going to be insightful and valuable whatever the charity’s fortunes in the economic climate of the day. After all, thinking about opportunities and risks, financial health, use of reserves and whether you’ve got fraud nailed, isn’t just for the bad times. Indeed, you could argue that the very best time to ask these fifteen questions is when things are going really well and there’s a real danger that things can only get worse.
Ideally, having read this far, you’ll now take a close look at BBT and put it at the top of your board’s next agenda. But we know how these things can slip to the bottom of a very long list of things to do so to help you out we’ve released a couple of short (5 minute) podcasts to pick out some of the key things to think about. Listen to these podcasts here. We look forward to the day when every charity board feels confident that it is well placed to cope with challenge, change and risk. BBT can help get the ball rolling on this. If listening to our podcast is the easiest place to start and helps lead you there, great. We’d really like to see more than 12,000 page views a year on BBT – it might sound a lot, but there are a million trustees out there.
So, what can you expect to hear? There are two podcasts, each of which considers a different half of BBT. Jane and I talk you through what you’ll find and how the questions might relate to common challenges. CFG’s help with the podcast was great – and not just because I got to work again with my former colleague (and social investment guru) Jane Tully. It gave me the chance to pick out some of the key questions so that Jane could pitch in with practical examples of how they might help. They range far and wide, from staying true to your charity’s mission to solving fundraising troubles, from bidding for contracts to saving money by sharing admin costs with other charities. I can do no more than end by saying go have a look in the mirror, pick up that telescope. If you don’t like what you see, (and admit it, nobody’s perfect) look no further than Big Board Talk. Is your charity fit for the future? Listen to the BBT podcasts here.
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