60 Percent of Irish Charities Have No Legal Professional On Their Board

The Charity Legal Survey 2014 has revealed that 60 per cent of the not-for-profits surveyed do not have a legal professional on their Board.

The report is by Boardmatch Ireland and O’Connell Brennan Solicitors, and is the culmination of findings from a survey carried out in December 2013 amongst 114 not-for-profit organisations.

“This finding highlights a worrying trend within the sector said Boardmatch CEO Chris White. “Now more than ever, it is essential that charities have some form of legal expertise on their Board as the public and media spotlight on the sector continues to intensify. Boardmatch currently has over 600 high-calibre legal professionals on its database looking to join a Board so the problem is not one of access or supply.”

Amongst other findings, the report also revealed that 80 per cent of not-for-profits feel their main legal advisor demonstrates good value for money.

Not-for-profits are overall very satisfied with the level of service on offer according to the report, with 85 per cent of not-for-profits stating that they would recommend their main legal advisor to another organisation.

Whilst organisations are enjoying good value for money, the report shows that cost continues to be a critical issue for many.

“It will be important for legal advisors to ensure that charities are not priced out of the market for legal services in years to come, when the full burden of compliance with the Charities Act 2009 comes into sharp focus” said Cormac Brennan, Partner at O’Connell Brennan Solicitors.

Click here to view the report.

Key Findings of Survey:


  • 60 per cent of respondents have no legal professionals on their Boards
  • 85 per cent of not-for-profits would recommend their legal advisor to another not-for profit
  • Almost 97 per cent of not-for-profits do not have an in-house legal team
  • Over 80 per cent of not-for-profits feel their main legal advisor demonstrates good value for money
  • Not-for-profits note slow response and delivery time as one of the key problems of their main legal advisor
  • Technical competence, understanding of the not-for-profit sector and fees are the three most important factors when choosing a legal advisor
  • The key areas in which not-for-profits are seeking legal advice are Employment, Contracts/ Service Level Agreements and Constitution & Governance
  • Nearly 47 per cent of not-for-profits report that the Board discusses legal issues either monthly or quarterly
  • 14 per cent state that their Boards discuss legal issues annually, and 17 per cent say that it is less frequent than this
  • Whilst almost 40 per cent said Directors were very much involved in the selection and review of legal advisors, almost 25 per cent stated that their Directors were not involved in the process.

Boardmatch Ireland Places its 1,000th Candidate onto Board of Leading Irish Charity

Boardmatch Ireland, the National Corporate Governance Charity are delighted to announce the 1,000th voluntary director to have been placed by the service since Boardmatch was established in 2005. In such trying times for the Charity sector, where there is increased focus on the Governance, it is encouraging to see that high calibre candidates are still willing to go forward to serve for free as voluntary directors of charities.

Carin Bryans, the Managing Director of J.P. Morgan Ireland is the 1,000th match, she has joined the Board of the Irish Society for the Protection of Animals (ISPCA). Carin was delighted that her passion and interest in animal welfare was able to be harnessed to the needs of the ISPCA.

Carin said,” Working with the ISPCA gives me the opportunity to bring the experience I have gained in governance, financial and strategic management to a cause that I feel passionate about, animal welfare. Boardmatch creates a win-win scenario where executives like myself get to broaden their horizons and experience, and give back to the community in which they live. And it allows the not-for-profit sector access to skills and experience that they would normally have to pay for. ”

Chris White, CEO of Boardmatch Ireland said “board renewal is an essential part good governance. New directors joining boards provide new challenges to the status quo. The lack of board renewal has been a contributing factor in some of the current issues around good and transparent governance in the charity sector. It is clear that problems do occur when there is insufficient board renewal.”

Boardmatch would recommend that all charity boards review their governance and ensure that their directors have term limits and a limit on the number of terms they can serve. Boardmatch would suggest three year terms and no more than three terms, no one in the sector should really be serving on a charity board for more than nine years. This is not a legal requirement but it is good practice.

Over 70 per cent of charities back International Accounting Standard

A new report has revealed that 72 per cent of charities back the introduction on an international accounting standard.

The report, International Financial Reporting for the Not-For-Profit Sector is based on 605 consultation responses mostly from charities, accountants and regulators in 179 countries.

The majority of respondents that favour the introduction of an international accounting procedure were from outside developed word countries which already have accounting systems for not-for-profits.

The report stated that much more work is needed to decide on an appropriate standard, and whether it would be mandatory or voluntary.

Ian Carruthers, Chair of Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies which carried out the study said: “This report clearly demonstrates that there is a desire for some kind of international standard for the not-for-profit sector, though further work is needed on what form it might take.”

Source: Civil Society

Improve your Governance with Boardmatch Ireland

In light of the recent focus on governance in the not for profit sector Boardmatch, the national corporate governance charity are offering Governance Reviews for your organisation at a new rate to ensure that charities are able to deal with the governance queries they are facing and look to learn the lessons from what went wrong at the Central Remedial Clinic.

If the sector is to restore public confidence then it needs to be able to deal with the key issues that have been highlighted. It also needs to be ready for the establishment of the Charity Authority.

Boardmatch can offer your organisation two options which will place your organisation and your Board in good standing and ready for the challenges ahead.

A: Desk Review of the Governance of your Organisation:

  • Examination of the Articles and Memorandum or constitution
  • Recommendations and advice on amendments
  • Review of the transparency of the organisation
  • Recommendations on best practice in current governance thinking
  • Source one new board member


B: Review of the Governance of your Organisation:

  • Examination of the Articles and Memorandum or constitution
  • Recommendations and advice on amendments
  • Review of the transparency of the organisation
  • Recommendations on best practice in current governance thinking
  • One training session with your with board
  • Presentation of the governance review to a board meeting & implementation discussion
  • Source one new board member


Option A

Under €100k – €500 (reduced from €900)
Under €500k – €650 (reduced from €1,000)
Under €1m – €1,000 (reduced from €1,400)
€1m + – €1,200 (reduced from €1,500)

Option B

Under €100k – €650 (reduced from €1,250)
Under €500k – €800 (reduced from €1,350)
Under €1m – €1,250 (reduced from €1,550)
€1m + – €1,750 (reduced from €2,000)

Last few places for CEO & Chair Training March 4th

We only have a few places left for our CEO & Chair Training day on the 4th of March in the Arthur Cox offices, Dublin 2. For further information or to book a place, please contact Eva Gurn at eva@boardmatchireland.ie or call the office on 01-671 5005.

The performance of any not-for-profit organisation is underpinned by the relationship that exists between the CEO and Chair. The training explores this critical Management/Governance interface, and is relevant to both seasoned practitioners and those just stepping up to the top job.

The full-day training course is delivered by Dorothy Dalton, editor of the UK-based Governance magazine and a prominent figure in the area of good governance training. Throughout her career, Dorothy has advised several leading national charities on their governance structures.

The price of the full day training is €300 per organisation.

Main topics will include:

  • Roles and expectations of Chairs and trustees
  • Ensuring trustees fulfil their governance role
  • Refreshing the Board and finding new trustees
  • Case study of where things went wrong
  • Developing a learning organisation


CEO and Chair Training Timetable

9.30am Registration and coffee

10.00am Introductions

Roles and expectations of chairs and trustees

  • the chair’s leadership role
  • what the chair cannot do – limitations on the chair’s role
  • respecting the collective authority and responsibility of trustees

Ensuring trustees fulfil their governance role:

  • trustees’ role and the chair’s relationship with trustees
  • the three key strands of governance: corporate/ fiduciary; strategic and impact

11.30am Coffee break

11.45am Refreshing the board and finding new trustees

  • providing support to and ensuring new trustees become effective as quickly as possible
  • ensuring trustees address the right issues: why it is important to get the right agendas
  • making informed decisions: ensuring the board gets the information it needs for good governance
  • chair/CEO relationship including: ensuring trustees can hold the chief executive to account without meddling in management

1.15pm Lunch

2.00pm Case study of where things went wrong – tackling difficult/sensitive situations and learning from others’ mistakes.

Delegates split into groups to decide how best to lead the charity in the case study out of its difficulties

3.15pm Tea and coffee

3.30pm Developing a learning organisation – why reviewing performance is important even at board level:

  • appraising the chief executive’s performance
  • reflecting on the chair’s performance
  • the board collectively reflecting on its performance

4.15pm End

Board Member Induction Training on March 25th

Boardmatch will be hosting a Board Member Induction Training day on the 25th of March in Davys Offices, Dawson St Dublin 2.

This training day provides a comprehensive overview of the role and responsibilities of not-for-profit board members and is tailored towards prospective, new and existing board members looking to strengthen their role on the Board.

Cost: 120 Euro p/p

Location: Davys Offices 49 Dawson St Dublin 2.

Time: 9.30am – 4pm

The full-day training is led by Boardmatch Business Development Manager Fidelma Keogh.

Previous to her role with Boardmatch, Fidelma was based in the Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups, working with member group Children in Hospital (Irl).Fidelma is a graduate of European Studies from Trinity College Dublin, having also studied at Paris VII, the Jussieu campus of the Sorbonne. She also received a First Class in Management for the Community & Voluntary Sector (NCI) and is currently attending the IPA programme in Governance, as part of the National University of Ireland (NUI) network.

Fidelma has worked in the not for profit sector for 10 years. Previous to this, she worked extensively in Ireland and internationally in the Arts sector for 10 years.

Main topics will include:

  • Role, expectations and liabilities of voluntary Directors
  • Governance and management
  • Information needed by voluntary Directors
  • Board recruitment & stakeholder management
  • Relationships with your Chief Executive and Chair

For further information, or to book a place, please contact Eva Gurn at eva@boardmatchireland.ie or call the office on 01-671 5005.