Public Consultation Launched on Governance Code for Charities

A series of public consultation on the development of a Governance Code for Irish charities was launched in Dublin today.

The aim of the consultation process is to help develop a code to address the lack of a single good governance benchmark for Irish community, voluntary and charitable organistions. A nine-member working group, drawn from across the community and voluntary sector, has already published a draft governance code, and the consultations will lay the groundwork for the adoption of a voluntary Governance Code later this year.

Deirdre Garvey, Chairperson of the Working Group said: “The aim of the Code is to provide guidance and a benchmark of good governance against which charities can measure themselves, as wells as to clarify the roles, duties and responsibilities of boards and other governance bodies. Our sector must maintain the trust and confidence on which it is built. It is therefore essential that we practice globally accepted standards of governance; it is expected of us by funders and the public – and it is what we expect of ourselves".

The draft code is principle-based (as apposed to rule-based) and voluntary. Whilst the five principles outlined in the draft code remain constant, organisations can select how they apply these principles by following guidelines based on one of four organisational types.

"The uniquely innovative aspect of the draft code is that it is firmly based on the principle of proportionality. Our sector is diverse and no two community and voluntary organisations are alike. We therefore need a nuanced and flexible approach,” said Ms Garvey.

The consultations will be hosted in various locations across the country between 16 May and 4 June. The draft code and information on the consultation process is available on www.governancecode.ie.

The motivation for the draft Governance Code derives from the publication of a ‘Code of Good Governance for Development NGOs’ in early 2009 by Dóchas and the Corporate Governance Association of Ireland.

The idea of creating a Code for the community and voluntary sector in Ireland was followed up by The Wheel leading to series of consultations with its members, the Corporate Governance Association of Ireland and The Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups.

In developing the draft Code, the Working Group drew on the latest thinking about such codes in Ireland and the UK, in the first instance, and also further afield.

The working group is made up of representatives from the following organisations: