Executive Summary Review of Governance Practices at Ormiston Families

The following is an excerpt from our Digi-Board ‘Review of governance practices for year to February 2022’ report. To view the full report, click here.

Overall Results

The overall results underpin Ormiston Families’ commitment to being a well run charity and to implement changes that demonstrate continuous improvement in governance. Ormiston Families has strong overall ratings for 9 out of 15 of the governance practices.

Furthermore, Ormiston Families equals or exceeds Digi Board’s “all charities benchmark” for 14 of the 15 practices and is only lower in ED&I which had already been identified as an area for improvement.

This is a commendable achievement and an example of how charities can role model good governance. We suggest that Ormiston Families could share this learning with other charities and its stakeholders as part of the charity’s future development and growth. The overall result is positive, and demonstrates good governance, and the recommendations and areas for improvement will help the charity to improve to an even higher level, as opposed to requiring rectification.

Overall Ratings

The overall ratings are drawn from the results of the ‘How Are We Doing’ section of the questionnaire. Ormiston Families’ overall rating for the current review returns a score of 5 6 rated as Very Well. Ratings for fundraising (5.3) returned a Quite Well rating.

The ratings of Very Well for purpose (5.8), governance (5.6) and reputation (5.6) are even better and reflect Ormiston Families’ commitment to good governance.

Some analysis related to the charity’s purpose is mixed. Interestingly, one quarter of Trustees felt they can’t judge how well the charity achieves its organisational purpose. Two thirds (67%) felt “we could do better at agreeing the charity’s target impact for our beneficiaries”. This is clearly an area for discussion and further review.

Comments generally indicate the importance of maintaining a focus on governance, which is well perceived. The functioning of committees is seen as a positive approach. There were general comments about the Board composition in this section, and a general view that improved review of Board performance would be helpful, and a commitment to greater diversity to reflect lived experience.

Ormiston Families has had excellent feedback which has supported the charity to build public trust and confidence and its reputation in the community. There are suggestions that this could be enhanced by communicating more about the organisation’s good works as part of the communications strategy to help raise awareness.

The most common suggestion to improve fundraising is to learn about innovative approaches, and from other charities. One important suggestion is that the organisation should invest more in the team and diversify areas of income generation.

Governance Principles

Key Strengths

Ormiston Families has achieved ratings of Quite Well for 8 out of the 15 governance principles and Very Well for 3 topics. Four principles are rated as OK but could do better. The governance practices emerging as core strengths show ratings (range: 1 poor to 5 exceptional) for Integrity (4.5), Safeguarding (4.6) and Committees (4.5).

Areas for Improvement

Equality Diversity and Inclusion (3.0) is the area most in need of improvement. Use of Digital (3.8), Board Composition (3.8) and Open & Accountable (3.9) were rated as the next weakest governance practices.
Quick wins can be achieved for each by addressing the frequently flagged “We could do better at…” issues described on page 18.

Emerging General Themes

There are several emerging themes from reviewing the data in addition to those mentioned above.
1. The ratings indicate confidence in the leadership of the charity and that it is well governed. This is further supported by relatively high ratings for Leadership (4.4) and Risk and Control (4.3). These ratings indicate that Ormiston Families’ governance is performing well and is supported by the benchmark being above that for other charities as can be seen in the table and graph on page 13.

2. The Trustees and SLT are strongly aligned around their perceptions of governance practices comparative ratings are shown on page 15.

3. Ormiston Families has invested in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at an operational level and has an ED&I Champion in post within the staff who has developed an action plan. However, this area has not been addressed at Board level and as such it is one of the weakest areas. Work to address the Board’s Composition and ED&I at this level is necessary to ensure that the Trustees are role modelling best practice across the organisation, and perhaps embedding ED&I within the organisational governance in a similar way to Safeguarding.

4. An open and transparent recruitment process for Trustees will be helpful to address the risks of a homogenous Board and “group think”.

5. The charity could spend some time reviewing its organisational purpose. This can be addressed by flushing out different perceptions about Ormiston Families’ target impact for its beneficiaries, to ensure that its charitable aims are being delivered effectively and agreeing how best to monitor and review these outcomes.

6. Board Behaviours & Culture scored quite well overall but there are some flagged issues and weaker areas of concern, particularly the need to do more to explore how board culture impacts on the reputation of the organisation.