Is charity governance fit for the digital age? – your views
As part of our #CharityDigitalViews series, we asked Twitter whether they thought charity governance is fit for the digital age.
Each week, we pose a question to @CharityDigiNews Twitter followers, asking for their thoughts on the big digital and tech-related issues facing charities.
Last Friday, the topic was charity governance. We asked: “Do you think charity governance is fit for the digital age?”
Founder of Zoe Amar Digital and all-round charity digital guru Zoe Amar chipped in:
Structure + skills are 2 barriers: 1. Traditional charity governance model eg meeting every quarter not designed for speedy decision making required in digital. 2. We need to skill up all trustees to make informed strategic choices in digital. Key message of #charitydigitalcode
— zoe amar📝📱 (@zoeamar) September 14, 2018
Her comments are reflected in her recent article for Charity Digital News, ‘Five ways charity leaders can make better decisions’: in it she argues that to be an effective charity leader in the digital age, you need to be agile in the way you make decisions, and re-think old, engrained ways of meeting and making decisions that weren’t designed for the fast-paced digital world.
Ellie Hale, Digital Fellowship and Communities Lead for CAST (Centre for the Acceleration of Social Technology) agreed:
1. Traditional governance structures are slow yet digital (& good digital design) moves v quickly
2. Many boards are far removed from the frontline yet an understanding of the changing needs/behaviours of frontline service users is vital for good governance. Tricky!
— Ellie Hale (@eg_hale) September 14, 2018
In response, Paul Streets at Lloyds Bank Foundation argued that most charity boards of small charities do have a great deal of frontline experience. Boards should have a level of digital awareness, but executives do not necesarily need to be digital experts (with some expertise in a board ideal). Primaily, charity trustee boards should be left to the task of governance. And executives should be empowered to act quickly when making decisions (whether digital-related or not):
1. 97% of charities are small & Boards often close to & inc lived exp 2. Boards shd be digi aware but don’t need to be or have an ‘expert’ 3. Exec does needs digi expertise within it or bring in 4 Board shd govern not do & 5 empower exec to act quickly on all matters if needed
— Paul Streets (@PaulStreets_) September 15, 2018
Says Mark Norbury, CEO of UnLtd:
Well that saved us putting a big dent in the ol’ training budget
— Mark Norbury (@MarkjNorbury) September 15, 2018