Trustees should take responsibility for difficult announcements at charities such as redundancies, according to a new report from New Philanthropy Capital.
The report, Stories from the boardroom, provides an overview of seminars held with chairs and chief executives of charities this spring; organised by New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) and the Clothworkers’ Company.
Seminar participants noted that issues like closing services or losing staff could be incredibly stressful for the executive team, and recommended that trustees take responsibility for communicating these difficult decisions.
“It may be more palatable for announcements about redundancies to come from the board,” the report said. “Given that it is distanced from day-to-day life at the charity.”
Culture clashes hinder mergers
The report also addressed mergers, with participants noting that a major barrier to charity mergers were culture clashes, and rarely financial or legal questions.
NPC trustee Harvey McGrath said: “It tends to be personal and cultural differences between the two charities and fears about loss of power, jobs or identity that are major stumbling blocks”.
Further, Stephen Lloyd, a partner at Bates Wells and Braithwaite,who also attended the seminars, said he’d seen culture clashes and concerns about who should be chair of the new or merged organisation “torpedo” mergers in the past.
McGrath emphasised that trustees needed to put time and effort into getting on and should tackle culture clashes and concerns upfront.
Julia Palca, who told the seminar about the 2008 merger of Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancerbackup, said it was crucial to communicate any changes to charity's staff, volunteer, beneficiaries, funders and other stakeholders.
"Trustees should not underestimate people's emotional investment in issues such as a charity's brand or location," she stressed.