Award Type 2: Best Governance Improvement Initiative 2018
Entry in Category 2
Governance Issue Addressed: Financial Accountability
The Irish Girl Guides (IGG) is a registered charity, and as such must comply with the Charities Act. We recognise the importance of maintaining the highest standards of good governance in the interest of all and want to take every step possible to ensure the highest level of transparency and accountability.
The Charity Regulator is currently in the process of introducing updated financial reporting regulations for charities with different branches or sub-groups. These will include details for organisations such as the Irish Girl Guides to consolidate all our accounts. This will affect our 570 local Units across every county in the country. Each Unit will be required to submit their annual accounts to our National Finance Committee and all monies collected in the name of Irish Girl Guides nationwide will then be collated. Our national accounts have always been externally audited and available to the public, but our individual Unit accounts were checked by local Commissioners and only reported at local level until now. On average, each of these Units generates an income of approximately €4000 a year from subscriptions, fundraising and grants. They spend this on expenses such as resources for the girls, activities, rent, badges, training. The goal for each Unit every year is to break even as we are a not-for-profit organisation.
All of our Leaders who run these Units are volunteers, so submitting accounts nationally will be an additional administrative burden for them. We wanted to make it as simple and streamlined as possible for all involved in this change in how our organisation collates its annual financial report.
We decided to take a two-pronged approach by bringing our members on a journey towards good governance and financial transparency. This was achieved by providing both the rationale for the change in our procedures via Regional Roadshows and the tools to implement it via a standardised Accounts Package.
- Accounts Package:
- To help minimise the impact for our volunteer Leaders, we developed an excel- based accounts package and provided it freely at all levels of the organisation.
- It s a simplified way for each Unit to record their income and expenditure and will make the process of reporting and collating all Unit accounts at national level easier.
- It will also enable us to have a full list of all bank/postal/credit union accounts held throughout the country in the name of the organisation.
- We provided training in small groups at times and places that suit our volunteers and developed a set of Guidelines on how to use the package.
- Regional Roadshows:
- We then organised a series of Regional Roadshows which involved over 500 volunteer Leaders attending 17 different locations across Ireland in April and May2018.
- Three hour sessions were held in the evenings or weekends to suit the volunteers.
- They were informative and consultative sessions on how best the national organisation could support the local Units to comply with these new regulations. The aim was to minimise the administrative workload for the volunteers, while still maintaining good governance and complying with the relevant regulations.
- A Core Team of 4 members was formed and trained on the delivery of the session for the Roadshows. This included the current and past Chair of our Board of Directors and two members of the Board.
- An online booking system was provided for Leaders to book into this free event. Refreshments were provided at the events. Resources and handouts were provided on the night and were made available afterwards on our website.
- As a token of appreciation, all those who attended the Roadshows were entered into a draw for concert tickets to an event in Croke Park.
Meeting our volunteer Leaders in person made the process of disseminating this important information easier and provided an opportunity to answer people’s questions on good governance. Good ideas were generated through discussion and feedback sheets and then shared in our Leaders magazine which was posted to all our Leaders in early September.
Having the Core Team travel to the different locations and give the same standardised session was important for consistency. Having 17 different dates and locations nationwide enabled more volunteers to attend and increase their understanding of what good governance is.
To date, over 50% of Units have submitted their accounts for last year and we will continue to work towards full compliance through training and information.