Jargon buster

The language of governance will change depending on the structure and status of your organisation. We have used the generic terms of governing body, members of a governing body and governing document to incorporate these differences. But here’s a guide to some of the jargon you will come across in your path to good governance.

Activities: the actions, tasks and work an organisation carries out.

Aims: Particular changes the organisation plans to bring about for its beneficiaries, services users and/or community.

Appraisal: a judgement of the extent to which the governing body is fit for purpose and competent to fulfil its obligations efficiently and effectively

Audit: an examination to ensure appropriate accountability of an organisation, especially finances

Beneficiaries: those who benefit and/or receive services from the organisation

Business Plan: A document prepared to describe and guide the organisation. It generally projects future opportunities, maps the financial operations, marketing and organisational strategies that will enable the organisation to achieve its goals. Sometimes referred to as an Operational or Forward Plan.

Conflict of Interest: When an individual member of the governing body’s interests ‘clash’, In particular when a personal or professional interest may get in the way of making a decision in the best interest of the organisation. Read our blog on how your charity can avoid conflicts of interest.

Connected Person: as defined within the Charity and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005, a connected person includes; immediate family members of the Trustee including domestic partners and their immediate families; companies, businesses and other organisations controlled by the Trustee or by an immediate family member or in which the Trustee and / or family member has a substantial interest; a Scottish partnership in which the Trustee or a connected person is a partner

Ethos: the distinguishing values, beliefs and character of an organisation.

Evaluation: using information from monitoring and elsewhere to judge the performance of any organisation.

Governance: the systems and processes concerned with ensuring the overall direction, supervision and accountability of an organisation.

Governing body: Also known as Management Committee, Executive Committee, Board or Council of Management.

Governing Document: a formal, written document that sets out the organisation’s purpose and how it will be run. The document may take many forms, those most commonly used include: Trust Deed, Rules, Constitution, Memorandum and Articles.

Fiscal: relating to financial matters, often used in relation to government revenue and taxes.

Induction: A formal process of introduction to a new job or position within an organisation.

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.

Monitoring: collecting and recording information in a routine and systematic way to check progress against plans and enable evaluation.

Objects: the statement of an organisation’s purpose set out in its governing document. Also known as objectives, aims or purposes.

Outcomes: the ultimate effects or impacts of an organisation’s activities.

Policies: statements which describe the desired conduct of the organisation, its volunteers and staff, and how to remedy any breaches.

Probity: behaviour in accord with accepted norms, the quality of having strong moral principles of honesty and decency.

Procedures: a written statement that describes the way in which a policy will be implemented.

Quorum: this is the minimum number of committee members that need to be present at a meeting for it to qualify as a properly constituted meeting

Regulator: a person or body empowered by law/statute that supervises a particular industry or business activity to ensure that public benefit is maintained.

Resources: everything an organisation draws on to carry out its activities. These will include people, equipment, money and services. They may also include the less tangible: time, morale and knowledge.

Scrutiny: critical observation or examination.

Stakeholder: anyone with a significant interest in the good management of an organisation. This could include funders, trustees, volunteers, staff, suppliers, users, etc.

Strategy: a broad course of action with an identifiable outcome.

Succession: a process of one person leaving a job or position and another replacing that person.

Target: defined level of achievement which a project or organisation sets itself to achieve in a specific period of time.

Trustee: person who has legal authority to take control of and manage another’s finance and property for the advantage of the beneficiary. A Trustee may also be known as Board Member, Committee Member, Governor or Director.

Values: a set of principles, which the organisation seeks to apply, both in setting its mission and aims, and in its day-to-day operations.

Vision: what the world will look like if the organisation is successful in achieving its mission.

Page last modified on 21st May 2018