The CEO plays a crucial role in empowering the Board to govern well.
Key in this regard is maintaining effective lines of communication:

It is the responsibility of the Chief Executive to present the board with all relevant information on the current state of the organisation in terms of both progress made and challenges faced. Whilst it may not always be good news, it is vital that information is presented in an accurate, balanced, timely and succinct way. Keeping the board in the dark is counterproductive and will create an air of mistrust.

The CEO must therefore provide timely and accurate information to the Board to enable it to govern the organisation effectively. Specifically; the CEO should provide information to the Board that is:

Forward looking. It should be longitudinal in scope and contextualised.

Accurate. Information provided by the CEO to the Board must be accurate and transparent. 

Within a reasonable timeframe. The CEO must be willing to accommodate Board members outside commitments, and cannot expect the Board to work within the same timeframe as the executive staff. Specifically, key information documents like Board papers should be sent a minimum of 7 days in advance to allow Board members at least one weekend to digest them.


Good Communication with Chair

Having good lines of communication between the CEO and Chair is quintessential for the well-being of any organisation.

 It must be remembered that together the Chair and the CEO stand at an important intersection, that of Governance and Management. It is essential that they communicate clearly and openly with each other so that all relevant information can be passed on to either the board or staff. 

No Chair/CEO relationship is perfect, problems will inevitably arise and disagreements will be had. Whilst perfection is unattainable, the CEO and Chair must be able to foster a relationship that can bear the brunt of any hitches that will undoubtedly occur along the way. For the Chair, fostering such a relationship with his/her CEO calls for a careful balancing act. He/she must be supportive of the CEO but must also be willing to give constructive criticism whenever appropriate. A useful reminder for this is what Dorothy Dalton in her guide Good Governance: the Chair’s Role terms, being a ‘critical friend’.

For both, a relationship built on mutual trust and respect is essential.




Self-assessment at Board level is integral to Good Governance practice. Not only does it engender a shared understanding amongst board members of how the Board operates, but also creates the opportunity for positive change.

A self-assessment requires that the Board looks critically at its own performance – that it acknowledges its strengths, but addresses any weaknesses or skills deficits that may need to be worked on. For example, many not-for-profit Boards are often lacking important ‘corporate’ skills such as HR, Finance, PR/Marketing etc. and a Board self-assessment will help to identify exactly which areas need to be strengthened.

Be clear on the needs of the organisation

In order for a board to have the right skills, it must be aware of the current and future needs of the organisation. A board cannot know what skills it is in need of if it is unclear about where the charity is headed. For example, if developing a new website is a part of the organisation’s strategic plan, it will be beneficial to recruit a board member with IT expertise who has contacts in the industry.

Perform a skills audit

Performing a skills audit is an effective way of collecting information about the skills you have on the board, and the skills you are lacking. A skills audit is also an educational exercise for trustees themselves as it allows them to identify gaps in their own knowledge and therefore avenues for further training or education.

On a cautionary note, a poorly conducted audit can have negative consequences for the morale of the board. A board member who is presented with a list of competencies they do not have may become resentful. It is important therefore that you spend time devising an appropriate method.

Skills audits take a variety of formats. Have a look here at some useful templates.

Balance ‘hard-skills and ‘soft-skills’

Boards rightfully hold technical skills such as financial acumen, legal expertise or marketing experience in high regard when assessing the level of competence on the board. These skills are integral to the efficiency of a not-for-profit board. Equally important however is the presence of ‘soft–skills’ on your board. These can include skills in negotiation, team-work, problem-solving and so on. An efficient board is one that has a balance of both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills.

Seek diversity

All not-for-profit organisations should strive for diversity on their boards, as a board which enjoys a broader range of voices, experiences and backgrounds will be better equipped to tackle issues and problems more holistically. Where diversity is lacking, a board then risks slipping into ‘group-think’- a condition which will hinder the organisation from moving forward.

Fundamentally, Board self-assessments create an ethos of professionalism and accountability on the Board and this has a knock on effect for the performance of the organisation as a whole.



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)



Boardmatch will be hosting a Board Member Training day on the 22nd of May in Dublin City Centre.

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: Dublin City Centre

Time: 9.30am – 4pm

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

The Trainer
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 or call the office on 01-671 5005.



The need for additional transparency is becoming increasingly evident. Transparency, whilst linked to Governance is a separate function. An organisation could have exemplary governance, but if that isn’t transparent it undermines the credibility of the charity.

This is especially true at present when public confidence needs to be rebuilt in the charity sector. Therefore rather than relying on current company law to present governance information to the public, it is important that key information about the organisation is presented through the website.

Boardmatch is therefore promoting the Governance Transparency Scale, which ranks the level of transparency, as in the level of corporate information that is placed on the organisations website.

A Standard

This is the top award and it would mean that the charity and the website discloses all the relevant information regarding the governance and finances of the organisation.

Compliance with this standard is especially important for organisations who have classified themselves as a B or C within the Governance Code Structure.

  • The names of all the current board members
  • The date the board members were appointed
  • A Biography of each of the board members
  • A Copy of most recent accounts
  • A commitment to comply with the charity SORP (this would include the disclosure in bands of €10k of senior staff salaries)
  • A commitment to comply or implement the Code of Governance
  • A Commitment to comply with the Principles of Good Fundraising
  • An explanation or list of members
  • The Articles and Memorandum of Association


B Standard

This is an acceptable level of disclosure.

  • The names of all the current board members
  • A Biography of each of the Board members
  • A Copy of most recent Accounts
  • A commitment to comply with the Charity SORP
  • A commitment to comply or implement the Code of Governance
  • A Commitment to comply with the Principles of Good Fundraising


C Standard

This is a very minimal standard and efforts should be taken as a matter of urgency to improve the level of disclosure on the website.

  • The names of all the current board members
  • A Biography of each of the Board members


D Standard

This is an unacceptable level of public disclosure.

  • No governance information available through the website


Boards and Senior Staff should as part of their on-going governance review look at what level of disclosure the organisation currently administers. Use the checklist to determine at what level you are at and then take incremental measures to achieve the A standard.

If you need any clarification or support please don’t hesitate to contact us.

This Transparency Scale is a new addition to the sector and Boardmatch will review it in light of developments within the sector and external drivers that may impact or require change.




More than just stunning the sector and public at large, the top-up scandal highlighted the need for charities to demonstrate financial transparency. Charities should dedicate sufficient time to the proper administration of the charity and contrary to the popular assumption that money spent on administration is wasted, research has shown that charities which invest more time and resources on administration perform better.[ref]) Good Charities Spend More[/ref]

Adopt the Charity SORP

The Charities SORP (Statement of Recommended Practice) provides recommendations for on how accounting standards should be applied in the context of charities and how to account for charity specific transactions. The aim of a SORP is to bring consistency of accounting treatment within a particular sector and to facilitate accounts to be prepared to give a ‘true and fair’ view.

To date, a small minority of charities have adopted the charity SORP. Boardmatch would strongly recommend that to bring transparency and consistency to the financial reporting procedures in Ireland, all charities should adopt the SORP if they have not done so already.  For further information, please visit:

Establish a Remuneration Committee

A remuneration committee will ensure that the remuneration arrangements of a charity are open, fair and transparent. Specifically, the committee will deal with remuneration for senior staff and salary performance reviews to ensure that salary aligns with performance.

Remuneration committees are not always necessary for smaller charities. Boardmatch would advise that any organisation with a turnover in excess of €1 million should however have a remuneration committee in place.

Sign up to the Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising

The Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising provides best practice guidelines on the administrative and operational aspects of charity fundraising. For more information, visit: