ICSA issues free guidance on building board assurance framework

22 Aug 2017 News

The professional body for governance ICSA has issued some free guidance on building a board assurance framework (BAF), which helps a board understand if its charity is being run properly.

A BAF is a framework by which the board can be assured of the veracity of data presented to it, when trustees are presented with triangulated information to support management assertions that the charity is well run.

Louise Thomson, head of policy (not for profit) at ICSA, said: “It can be challenging for trustees to know with absolute certainty that the charity they have responsibility for is being run properly and meeting its strategic goals. Some trustees can feel disconnected from the activities of frontline staff, but compliance and oversight requires a certain amount of insight into operational matters.

“The quality and veracity of board information is key to enabling trustees to provide challenge and stewardship. This is where a board assurance framework can give assurance, providing evidence that decisions are being implemented and strategic aims are having the intended outcome.”

ICSA say that the benefits of a board developing a BAF are a clear and comprehensive overview of the charity’s risks, including the management and mitigation of those risks.

It also helps a board identify where there is sufficient assurance available and helps strengthen those controls. It can be used to highlight areas of overlap, duplication or disproportionate control mechanisms.

Other benefits include flagging up where control mechanisms are ineffective; focusing limited resources at those areas of greatest need; and providing evidence to support formal governance statements.

Simon Osborne, chief executive of ICSA, said: “A BAF is a structured approach for ensuring that boards get the right information, which is accurate and relevant, at the right time and with a level of assurance attributed to each source of data. It is more than just another tool to measure and manage risks; it should be viewed as a framework by which the board can triangulate the information it receives and be assured of the veracity of data presented to it.

“This guidance will help boards to build their own BAF, and once in place, to assess whether it continues to be effective. Like other key board documents, it must be regularly reviewed and amended accordingly.”

The guidance can be downloaded here.

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