Governance jargon buster

A comprehensive list to help demystify governance jargon.

DBS (Disclosure and Barring Scheme): Run by the Government, this scheme helps to prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. Charities ask staff and trustees to submit their details to the scheme, which results in certificates being issued with details of any convictions, allowing charities to judge whether they are recruiting suitable people into their organization.

EDI (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion): The practice of promoting fairness, representation, and inclusivity within an organisation.

GIFT AID: Tax relief for donations of cash to a charity.

MERGER: A combination of two or more organisations into one.

MISSION: Why an organisation exists and the broad effect it wants to have. A summary of the overall difference it wants to make. Often produced as a result of organisation-wide discussions.

MINUTES: A written account of a meeting. Board and Committee meetings should all have written minutes so that there’s an agreed write-up of what took place and was decided. Minutes from the previous meeting are usually approved at the next meeting to make sure all trustees agree that they are accurate.

INDUCTION: Training and support for new members of staff or the board. An induction process should help a new board member to understand the organisation and the board and help them begin their new role.

OBJECTS: Describe and identify the purpose for which the charity has been set up, e.g., to tackle poverty.

QUORUM: The number of trustees that need to be present at a meeting for it to be counted as a formal meeting (this will be set out in the governing document/Memorandum and Articles).

LAY TRUSTEE: Used by organisations where they also have specialist board members from the sector or specialism they work to support. Lay trustees are people from outside that specialist area who bring different expertise and perspectives to the Board.

MEMORANDUM AND ARTICLES (sometimes shortened to Mem & Arts): A formal document setting out the organisation’s purpose, how it will be run, and how long trustees can serve on the board for (terms of office).

REGULATOR: The Charity Commission for England and Wales regulates and registers charities in England and Wales. It also runs an online register of charities, which provides information about all registered charities. All charities with an income of more than £5,000 need to register with the Commission.

SAFEGUARD: Actively preventing harm, harassment, bullying, abuse, and neglect towards volunteers, staff members, participants, and donors.

SLT (Senior Leadership Team): The group of senior leaders within an organisation responsible for strategic decision-making.

SORP (Statement of Recommended Practice): Sets out how charities must account for their finances.

STAKEHOLDER: Anyone with an interest in the charity and how it’s run. This could include trustees, volunteers, beneficiaries, staff, funders, partners, suppliers, etc.

TERM OF OFFICE: How long trustees can serve on the board for. Usually three years. This will be set out in the Memorandum and Articles/governing document.

UNINCORPORATED CHARITIES: Charities that aren’t also companies or Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs).

VALUES: A set of principles that set out the way in which the charity wants to achieve its mission and operate day to day.

VISION: What the world will look like if the charity achieves its mission.

TREASURER: Board member with lead responsibility for the charity’s finances. They will usually also chair the finance committee. Charities don’t always have a named treasurer, but typically the role is taken by the Chair of the Finance Committee.

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