When we came up with the list of topics for the upcoming SCVO Building Better Governance series, we had in mind the results of more than 200 evaluation and development reviews we’ve run with voluntary and community organisations in the last couple of years.

We know at first hand what ‘good’ looks like, and can spot what differentiates high performing boards from the rest. And we usually find that even great boards have at least 10 recommendations about ways to improve their practice following one of our reviews!

So we’ve designed six seminars that each build on the next. At the heart is a session on demonstrating accountability, stimulating conversations about who you are accountable to and how you deliver on this critical element of a board’s role.

We then explore board appraisal, striking the balance between making the best use of trustee time and ensuring that boards are constantly reviewing their practice, learning and evolving.

you’ll find yourself sharing your experience and ideas with colleagues, so we all emerge having both given and received quality learning

Two sessions cover board involvement in strategy, and the reports and approaches you take to ensure you get to hear about the right things, in the right way, at the right time, as a basis for both scrutiny and strategic conversation.

Next comes an exploration of the vital role of the top team, the dynamics and boundaries between the board and staff team, and how challenge and support needs to work to ensure governance and great leadership.

We close with a seminar focussed on the board meeting: the place where decisions are made and where trustees come together to add value and deliver the mission. Our analysis of high (and not so high!) board performance demonstrates the part that trustee behaviour at meetings plays in differentiating effective boards from the rest.

To prepare for this SCVO seminar series we’ve taken the board basics and put them in a series of good practice guides which will be given to all those attending. While we’ll spend time on these important basic principles during the programme, we want to spend the majority of each session exploring new thinking with you, going beyond the basics to consider what it takes to get really excellent governance practice.

These won’t be seminars where you sit and listen. And you’ll find yourself sharing your experience and ideas with colleagues, so we all emerge having both given and received quality learning.

We keep our materials up-to-date, both with the best research in nonprofit governance and in response to sector challenges. Recent failures in governance, like those that have caught media attention, have given us food for thought about how we can be even more rigorous and challenging in our practice as trustees.

While levels of support for and trust in Scottish charities remains impressively high, despite pressures from south of the border, I know there’s no room for complacency.

All of our Cass Centre for Charity Effectiveness governance team are looking forward to sharing in the learning.

Caroline Coleman is Principal Consultant at Cass CCE