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Refreshing the Charity Governance Code

Published: 10/06/24 | Categories: Information & support, Author: Alison Pritchard

Alison Pritchard, Head of Support at WCVA, talks about the value of the Charity Governance Code and why it’s important for Welsh charities to get involved in the current consultation to update it.


The Charity Governance Code is a practical tool to help charities and their trustees develop high standards of governance.

The Code sets the principles and recommended practice for good governance and is deliberately aspirational: some elements of the Code will be a stretch for many charities to achieve. This is intentional: the Code is designed to be a tool for continuous improvement towards the highest standards of governance.

WCVA is a member of the Code’s steering group. We help to shape the content of the Code based on our experience supporting charities and voluntary organisations from across Wales with their good governance.


The code is made up of seven principles:

  1. Organisational purpose – The board is clear about the charity’s aims and ensures that these are being delivered effectively and sustainably.
  2. Leadership – Every charity is headed by an effective board that provides strategic leadership in line with the charity’s aims and values.
  3. Integrity – The board acts with integrity. It adopts values, applies ethical principles to decisions and creates a welcoming and supportive culture which helps achieve the charity’s purposes.
  4. Decision-making, risk and control – The board makes sure that its decision-making processes are informed, rigorous and timely, and that effective delegation, control and risk-assessment, and management systems are set up and monitored.
  5. Board effectiveness – The board works as an effective team, using the appropriate balance of skills, experience, backgrounds and knowledge to make informed decisions.
  6. Equality, diversity and inclusion – The board has a clear, agreed and effective approach to supporting equality, diversity and inclusion throughout the organisation and in its own practice.
  7. Openness and accountability – The board leads the organisation in being transparent and accountable. The charity is open in its work, unless there is good reason for it not to be.

There is also a ‘Foundation’ section outlining principles that should be a starting point for all trustees.


The Code was last updated in 2020. The steering group, also attended by organisations including ACEVO, Charity Leaders Network, Association of Chairs and The Chartered Governance Institute, is now refreshing the code once more. The environment in which voluntary organisations operate is constantly evolving, so its vital that tools like the Code are updated and remain relevant.

In 2024 the Steering Group wants to take a wider look at the Code, exploring its content, structure, application to different sizes of charity, the use of language and user-friendliness. We are also interested in exploring the barriers or obstacles to using the Code. As such we invite responses to the consultation from both users and non-users. We are interested to hear from those with awareness of the Code and those who have limited familiarity.

The consultation includes a question on other principles that voluntary organisations may wish to see added to the code. Prevalent topics such as climate change and environmental issues, engaging with issues of cultural significance and trustee succession planning.


As Head of Support, I work across WCVA’s governance, funding, safeguarding, digital and volunteering functions. I can say with absolute certainty that good governance is the backbone of all four other areas of running a voluntary organisation.

The Code is an excellent tool to help you get that solid foundation and give your activities the best chance of success. For any tool to be useful, it needs to meet the needs of its users, and this consultation is the best opportunity the sector has to make sure the Code does indeed meet your needs.


To respond to the consultation, please complete our online survey.

We estimate it will take no more than 30 minutes. There is no option to save responses and return to the survey. When you start, you’ll need to complete it in one sitting.

You can download the survey questions to prepare your answers.

The consultation process will run from 21 May 2024 until 11 August 2024.

The current consultation on the Code is generously supported by The Clothworkers Company, Withers LLP and Wrigley’s LLP.