Update to Charity Code of Governance

Update to Charity Code of Governance

Friday, 11 December 2020

Following consultation, an updated Charity Code of Governance has been published. A ‘refresh’ rather than an ‘overhaul’, the enhancements focus on the principles of diversity and integrity. These are the principles that received the most consistent feedback in the consultation as the areas where change was required.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

The name has changed; the principle is now ‘equality, diversity and inclusion’ (EDI) rather than simply ‘diversity’. 

Addressing EDI helps charity boards to make better decisions. This requires ongoing commitment, but it means that a charity is more likely to remain relevant and deliver its public benefit.

The Code sets new expectations for what charities should be doing to embed EDI in their organisation, including in their governance and boards. In particular, it sets out four stages of recommended practice to guide charities in their EDI journey:

  • Consider why EDI is important for the charity and for the delivery of its aims, and assess the current level of understanding amongst the board and throughout the organisation.

  • Set out tailored plans and targets based on the charity’s starting point.

  • Monitor and measure how well the charity is doing in meeting those plans and targets, including any targets which specifically relate to the board.

  • Be transparent and publish the charity’s progress in meeting these targets, including any challenges, opportunities and learning.


The integrity principle has been strengthened to reflect what charities have learnt in the last few years about integrity and safeguarding. The updated principle continues to highlight the importance of values. The principle also emphasises the importance of charities reflecting their ethics and culture in everything they do.

It additionally reflects the belief that everyone who comes into contact with a charity should be treated with dignity and respect and feel that they are in a safe and supportive environment. In particular, regarding the right to be safe, the Code recommends that trustees:

  • understand their safeguarding responsibilities

  • establish appropriate procedures which are integrated with the charity’s approach to risk management

  • make sure that everyone in contact with a charity knows how to speak up and raise concerns

What is the Charity Code of Governance?

The Code is not a legal or regulatory requirement. It draws upon, but is fundamentally different to, the Charity Commission’s guidance. Instead, the Code sets the principles and recommended practice for good governance and is deliberately aspirational; some elements of the Code will be a stretch for many charities to achieve. This is intentional as the Code is a tool for continuous improvement towards the highest standards.

The Code is based on seven principles: organisational purpose; leadership; integrity; decision making, risk and control; board effectiveness; equality, diversity and inclusion; and openness and accountability.

The revised code can be accessed here

Need help?

If you’d like any further information, please speak with a member of our Not for Profit team. You can find contact details on the Our People section of the Larking Gowen website.

Alternatively, call 0330 024 0888 or email

Chris Yeates




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