Boardmatch will be hosting a Board Member Training day on the 15th of November in Accenture Offices, 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.

We only have a limited number of places still available, so book now to avoid disappointment.

Cost: 120 Euro p/p

Location: Accenture, 1 Grand Canal Square, Grand Canal Harbour Dublin 2

Time: 9.30am – 4pm

The full-day training is led by Boardmatch CEO Chris White. Chris has extensive experience in the provision of good governance training and has worked nationwide to provide good governance support to not-for-profit organisations.

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.



Minister for Justice Alan Shatter recently announced that the long-awaited Charities Regulatory Authority will come into force in 2014.

The Charities Act was first passed in 2009. However the Charities Regulatory Authority which constituted a key part of the legislation remained dormant due to insufficient resources. In 2012, Mr Shatter had stated that he was deferring full implementation of the Act due to the “likely scale of the financial and staffing resources implied.”

The new regulatory landscape is finally on the horizon and as of next year, Charities will be required to adhere to a number of new requirements including the submission of an Annual Activity Report. Under the new legislation, charities will also be required to pay an annual fee for registering with the regulator.

In return, the main functions of the new body will be to: maintain a publically available register of charities, monitor and ensure compliance and provide guidelines and codes of conduct. The regulator will also have powers to carry out investigations and impose penalties for offences.

For the first time, members of the public will have access to comprehensive information on the activities of Ireland’s charities, including how they use their funds.

“Charities are doing excellent work and the public need to see that” says Deirdre Garvey, CEO of The Wheel. “And the new regulator is an independent way of demonstrating to the public the excellent work that charities are doing.”

“Most charities will find that there isn’t as much to do as they may fear. To prepare for the regulator I would suggest that for charities who haven’t done so already, the adoption of the Governance Code is key. Once you’ve adopted the Code, adhering to the new regulatory requirements will be a piece of cake.”

In a recent Irish Times article, Business columnist Dominic Coyle argued that limited buy-in to the voluntary codes of practice demonstrated that there wasn’t a genuine hunger in the sector for regulation. “The sector has been pushing the government for many years to bring in a regulatory body” counters Ms Garvey. “There is no resistance, the sector wants it.”

In light of Minister Shatter’s previous deferral of the Act, will the Government now have the resources to run an effective regulatory body? Ms Garvey is uncertain.

“It remains to be seen. We know that they are committed but I think it’s a case of watch this space.”



What is Strategic Planning? Even the words strategic and planning used together can cause confusion. Strategy and plan both mean the same thing, right? Not really. Any organisation can plan but not every organisation thinks about planning in a strategic way where they look towards the future and map out a series of measured steps and objectives to get them there.

In order for a business to be really successful, to really capitalise on its strengths and to be agile in an ever changing set of market conditions there needs to be a clearly thought out roadmap for success. That roadmap is often developed as a Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan determines where an organisation is going and how exactly it’s going to get there.

Why A Strategic Plan Is Important

While many organisations will claim to have some sort of Strategic Plan it is the organisations that are performing at a high level who have a good Strategic Plan and are working towards delivering the vision laid out in the plan. These high performing organisations are using their Strategic Plans as the guide and map for the future of the company.

The importance of the Strategic Plan is that it provides direction and focus for the organisation and its employees (if used as a tool by the organisation, rather than laying on a shelf gathering dust). The plan lays out specific goals that are to be achieved and sets out the course of action for achieving them. A good strategic plan looks out 3 to 5 years (sometimes longer) and describes clearly what market, product/service; pricing, marketing and other strategies will be followed. In short, the Strategic Plan defines how the business will develop and grow over the period of the plan.

Before you jump in with both feet, remember the value of a strategic planning exercise is more than in the documentation of the plan itself. The journey taken by the organisation in analysing where their journey will take them is extremely valuable in itself. Furthermore, developing the plan is a dynamic process. The idea or objective arrived at today might very well alter the decisions made previously. The planning process will move the Strategic Plan through a number of iterations before it is finalised.

Developing the Strategic Plan

Charting the path for an organisation to follow can leave even the most organised and focused manager stumped. Basically, any strategic planning effort must answer three key questions:

1. Where are we now?
2. Where do we need to be?
3. How do we get there?

Building a Strategic Plan is not complex. It is, however, a journey and like all journeys the process of getting to the destination is often as valuable as reaching the end point. In his book, Selling the Invisible – A Field Guide to Modern Marketing, Harry Beckwith wrote:

Don’t value planning only for its results: The Plan.
The greatest value is in the process: The Thinking.

The ‘thinking’ should involve all the key stakeholders to the business at some level. An organisation might involve staff at all levels – from the Board right through to the front line staff in developing the plan. Customer opinion should be solicited. Creative thinking and new ideas tabled will confirm the core values that drive the organisation.

The Strategic Planning process should generate excitement and commitment to the way forward. And, by involving a wide spectrum of stakeholders in the process there is a greater likelihood of buy-in to the plan and its successful implementation.

In developing the Strategic Plan the aim is to answer the following questions:

What do we as an organisation aspire to become (vision)?

  • A Vision: outlines what a company wants to be. It concentrates on future; it is a source of inspiration; it provides clear decision-making criteria.

What business are we in (mission)?

  • A Mission: tells you about the company now. It concentrates on present and determines the desired level of performance.

· What goals are we seeking to achieve (market-focused performance objectives)?

· What value proposition will we deliver to customers?

· Which capabilities do we need for success?

· How can we distinguish our portfolio of products and services from our competitors (marketplace positioning)?

So, what exactly do we do when we embark upon a strategic planning exercise? In answering the questions laid out above there are a structured set of strategic planning steps that should be followed:

Strategic Planning Steps:

  1. Analyse the Organisation – conduct an internal analysis. Assess company strengths and weaknesses, financial performance, people, key operational aspects, culture, positioning in the market(s), and critical issues facing the organisation.
  2. Assess the external landscape – look outside the organisation. Focus on understanding competitors, market opportunities and threats, evaluate new and changing technologies, analyse any regulatory or legislative concerns, trends in the market(s) and so on.
  3. Develop the vision and mission – this will underpin the strategic plan. What do we do now? What do we aspire to do? Developing the vision and the mission will help to focus the organisation on the big picture.
  4. Set Goals and objectives – Setting clear goals will establish the framework and basis for implementing the plan. The idea is to ensure that the organisation has specific and measurable targets to aim for.
  5. Define Critical Success Factors – Understand and document the critical factors which will influence the successful implementation of the Strategic Plan. If everyone in the organisation understands and is bought in to what it takes to be successful on the journey, the implementation of the plan will run much more smoothly.

Strategic planning does not end once the plan is documented. The key to making the plan work is a commitment to implementing it, to aim for the goals laid out in the plan. The Strategic Plan must be socialised within the organisation. Each Department/Business Unit in the organisation must understand the vision and mission and have a clear grasp on the goals and objectives that they must focus on during the period of the plan. The people in the organisation must be held accountable for what they said they would do.

Finally, plans change – even Strategic Plans. Regular review of the Strategic Plan will ensure that it is still current and that it is still providing the right level of focus and direction for the organisation. In changing market conditions or when facing shifting internal priorities an organisation should regularly review the Strategic Plan so it is able to adapt the course of action and remain flexible.


It is important to understand the limitations as well as the possibilities of strategic planning. A Strategic Plan is not a solution for everything that might challenge an organisation. However, both the development process and the plan itself can be valuable tools in charting the future path for the organisation. If an organisation is committed and bought into its implementation, a Strategic Plan can provide the platform for success, enabling it to clearly articulate where it is now, where it needs to be and how it’s going to get there.

A well thought out and developed Strategic Plan will highlight an organisation’s unique strengths and particular weaknesses, enabling it to develop new opportunities or understand current/future challenges to the success of the business. The Strategic Plan will provide the map; all the organisation has to do is trust and follow the landmarks.

Catherine Smith McKiernan is an experienced business consultant based in Dublin and owner of CSM Consulting.



Boardmatch Ireland has a new training calendar detailing all our upcoming trainings for the rest of 2013.

In addition to our free online matching service, our various trainings, seminars and events form an integral part of our mission which is to strengthen governance in the sector. The calendar provides details of our:

  • Board Member Induction Training
  • Board Leadership Training
  • CEO & Chairs Training
  • Communications Strategy for Boards
  • Fundraising: The Role of the Board
  • Owner Management Company Training

Click here to view the calendar.

Discounts are available for multiple bookings. For further information please contact Eva Gurn on 01 671 5005 or

Please note that Boardmatch Trainings book up quickly so book early to avoid disappointment.



The establishment of the Charities Regulatory Authority (‘the Regulator’) is set for 2014, heralding a new era of transparency for the sector. In order to help charities prepare, Boardmatch Ireland has compiled a useful list of the key requirements placed on charities under the new regulatory framework.

Register of Charities

The Regulator will be responsible for maintaining a register of all charitable organisations operating in Ireland. The information maintained on this register will be publicly available as a means of boosting transparency and by extension, public trust of the sector.

  • Charities in receipt of charitable tax exemption from the Revenue Commissioners will be automatically registered with the Regulator once it is established.
  • All other charitable organisations must register within six months of the establishment of the Regulator.
  • Under the new legislation, all charities will be required to state that they are registered with the Regulator on their public literature. This would include letters, reports, publications etc.


Annual Activity Report
In line with the new reporting standards outlined in the Charities Act, all charities will be required to submit an Annual Activity Report to the Regulator. The format of the document was discussed during the public consultation period earlier this year but is yet to be finalised. For a synopsis of responses from the organisations and individuals that took part in the consultation click here. It is envisaged that the Annual Activity Report will be akin to the document required by either the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland or the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

Financial Accounts
Company Law states that charities that are registered as companies are required to submit annual accounts to the Companies Registration Office (CRO). Under the regulatory framework, the CRO will submit these annual accounts to the Regulator.

A different set of requirements will apply to charities that are not registered as companies.

  • Unincorporated charities will be required to submit an Annual Statement of Accounts to the Regulator.
  • Where the gross income or expenditure of a charitable organisation in a financial year does not exceed €100,000, the charity may prepare an income and expenditure account and a statement of the assets and liabilities of the charitable organisation.
  • Charities that are not companies which receive less than €10,000 in a financial year will be exempt from filing annual accounts. These bodies are still required to submit their Annual Activity Report.


The Charities Act defines ‘Charity Trustees’ as those persons having day-to-day control of a charitable organisation.

  • Under the new legislation, all charities will be obliged to inform the Regulator of the identities of all its trustees. For companies limited by guarantee this refers to its Directors, but there are also different types of trustee which are included under this provision.
  • For example, members of ‘management committees’ or core groups’ will be deemed trustees under the new legislation.

The Charities Act 2009 outlines the following functions for the Charities Regulatory Authority:

  • increase public trust and confidence in the management and administration of charitable trusts and charitable organisations;
  • promote compliance by charity trustees with their duties in the control and management of charitable trusts and charitable organisations;
  • promote the effective use of the property of charitable trusts or charitable organisations;
  • ensure the accountability of charitable organisations to donors and beneficiaries of charitable gifts, and the public;
  • promote understanding of the requirement that charitable purposes confer a public benefit;
  • establish and maintain a register of charitable organisations;
  • ensure and monitor compliance by charitable organisations with this Act;
  • carry out investigations in accordance with this Act;
  • encourage and facilitate the better administration and management of charitable organisations by the provision of information or advice, including in particular by way of issuing (or, as it considers appropriate, approving) guidelines, codes of conduct, and model constitutional documents;
  • carry on such activities or publish such information (including statistical information) concerning charitable organisations and trusts as it considers appropriate;
  • provide information (including statistical information) or advice, or make proposals, to the Minister on matters relating to the functions of the Authority.

Department of Justice and Equality

To view the entire Charities Act 2009 which details the full remit of the new Charities Regulatory Authority, click here.



Boardmatch is thrilled to have been selected by Craol, the community radio forum of Ireland to help strengthen the governance structures of its member organisations.

Governance has been identified by the Broadcasting Association of Ireland (BAI) as the critical challenge facing community radio stations today. To reflect this, the Association has recently updated its governance handbook in line with the new Governance Code for Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations.

Good governance leads to financial sustainability, to good working environments, to accountability, lack of conflict, and strategic development. In this context, Craol is launching in-station governance training for its members, to be delivered by Boardmatch Ireland.

We are delighted to see that more and more organisations within the sector are making Good Governance a key priority. Boardmatch will engage with 10 community radio stations to assist with their current governance structures, covering all aspects from the governing Constitution to implementing Board evaluations.

Craol is the representative, co-ordinating, lobbying, training, and support group for Irish Community Radio. For more information, visit