Charity Trustees, Board members, staff and members can sometimes disagree with each other over decisions about the charity. Disagreements can range from things that are relatively minor up to significant issues and sometimes they’re easily resolved, other times it can take years to resolve. To meet the challenges of COVID-19, charities have had to make difficult and often complex decisions against a background of uncertainty,causing tension within boards of trustees and senior management teams or exacerbated existing tensions. Such disputes consume a great deal of time and energy and, in the worst cases, they can put the survival of the charity at risk. Shivaji Shiva, Charities Partner, Veale Wasbrough Vizards considered the common causes of internal disputes in charities; key warning signs for funders, the stages a dispute can take and potential interventions; the duties of funders where disputes arise and strategies for helping to resolve disputes. A copy of his presentation can be found here. Some case examples were shared of internal disputes that were expensive for the organisation to resolve. For registered charities understanding what and when the Charity Commission can be approached to become involved. When disputes or internal conflict erupts what conflict resolution process work best in different situations. Early prevention through good governance and management systems were seen as critical – the Compass Cass Good Governance Model provided a useful breakdown of the different aspects of good governance that should be considered and reviewed.
Funders vary in their approach on how they should respond. Though all agreed that early prevention through good organisational governance and management was critical and potential risks leading to disputes and conflict could be identified as part of the assessment and monitoring of grants. All agreed that intervention at the point of crisis or dispute can be expensive and not a good use of time or resources.
Some further information and useful resources can be found here:
NCVO’s governance consultancy can suggest some accredited mediators familiar with charities