How do I register?
Just click ‘Register an organisation’ on the top menu bar or on the home page, and you’ll be taken to the registration page. Enter some basic details, and you’ll be sent an email to confirm that you’re a human being click that link, and your registration is complete.
My organisation’s name is taken!
Don’t panic, there are two possibilities here. The first is that a fellow trustee has already registered you but not got around to adding you as a user yet. Check with your colleagues and see if they’ve beaten you to it, and if so, ask them to get a move on and add you.
The other possibility is that an organisation with a similar or related name has registered it. If ‘Ainsdale Community Wildlife Trust’ registers themselves as ‘Wildlife Trust’, then nobody else will be able to register with that name. It’s OK though, the organisation’s name is only relevant in that it needs to make sense to the people added by the administrator, as it will appear in their profile when they log in.
Just try adding a geographical indicator like ‘Wildlife Trust — Lancashire’ or something similar and it will all work fine. You could call your organisation ‘My groovy governance gang’ if you wanted to and it would all work perfectly (just be prepared to explain yourself to your fellow trustees).
Your organisation’s name isn’t publicly available or findable by anyone other than people specifically added to it by that organisation’s administrator.
I’ve registered, now what?
You can go to ‘My dashboard’ and start answering questions straight away, but for most people, the next step will be adding your fellow trustees.
Click ‘Control panel’, this will take you to the administrator’s page. From here, click ‘add organisation user’ and you’ll get a small form where you can provide the name and email address of anyone you want to add to your organisation.
Everyone you add will get a similar confirmation email to the one you got, they just need to click the link to confirm they are real, and they’ll be able to start answering the questions too.
How many questions are there?
There are 70 questions, broken down into seven categories which match those of the Charity Governance Code.
Yikes, that’s a lot of questions!
Well yes, but we’re reviewing your governance here, not deciding which Disney princess or Marvel superhero you’d be! You don’t have to answer them all in one go, and you might even decide as a board not to do a full review of all seven areas. You could just focus on one or two question sets, discuss them at your next board meeting and do the next couple at your next meeting. Everyone’s progress will be saved so they can easily go back and complete them another time.
Where are my results?
That all depends. If you are the one that set up your organisation’s account and added all of the other people, you can see the results by clicking on ‘Control panel’ and logging in to the administrator’s profile.
You can export the results into a simple Excel file (at present, we’re working on a cool-looking dashboard that will enable you to filter and sort results at will, but for now it’s just Excel).
If you aren’t the one that set up your account and you were added by another member of your organisation, sorry, you aren’t able to see the results until everyone else has completed the questions and your administrator has shared them with you.
Can anyone else see my results?
No, even your administrator can’t see your individual responses. DSC staff (who run the site) can’t see these either, only aggregated data that’s anonymised and filtered by organisation type and other registration fields.
The only way anyone other than you can access your basic user information (name and email) is if they are the administrator that set you up in the first place.
My trustees are having problems logging in and/or answering questions. What should I do?
Uh-oh. The simplest thing is to direct them to the help and advice on the site. A step-by-step guide is available here which should help. If they are still struggling, or you know certain trustees are less comfortable with online things like this, why not buddy them up with another trustee or staff member who can walk them through it?
As a last resource, the full set of questions is available as a downloadable PDF here. If you have a trustee who is having real problems, ask them to complete that form offline, and you can then log in and add their responses for them.
OK, we’ve got our results, now what?
Now is the fun bit — talking about them! How you use them will depend a little on how you’ve approached the review yourselves: whether you’ve completed the whole thing or just a few sections, how big your board is and how much time you’ve given yourself to discuss the results.
You could go through all 70 questions one-by-one as a group if you want to get into that level of detail, but we suspect most boards will prioritise three areas of discussion.
1. What are you doing well: highlight the areas where you’ve scored really highly and make sure you keep doing what you’re doing.
2. Where are there differences in opinion: this is a really critical and interesting conversation to have. Where there is a big range in the responses to a question (e.g. some trustees have scored 3 and others have scored 10), why is that? Is there a perception issue? An understanding issue? Find the biggest differences and talk about them.
3. Where have you scored the lowest: identify those areas where some improvement is needed, talk about what you need to do differently, what processes you need to put in place etc. and make a plan for doing that.
We’ve created a simple conversation planner here, which you can download and use to prompt discussions and record key points and actions as you work through the discussions.
So we had the discussion and now don’t know what to do next!
OK, that’s not unusual with this kind of conversations, it can be really hard to prioritise and come up with a clear plan after such a big review. Our first tip is to let things settle a bit. If there are no critical issues jumping out as priorities, that’s probably a good thing. Give yourselves some time for reflection and follow up at the next board meeting.
If you need help addressing specific things that have come out of your review, check the help and advice in the ‘Help and support’ section on this site first. There are links to a whole load of organisations (including DSC) that can help you, whether it’s specific governance requirements, help running meetings, training or facilitation that you need to move things forward.
Deleting your account
To detach yourself from an organisation (for example, if you stand down from a board or your term ends), contact your administrator and they will be able to remove you from that organisation. This will remove you from that organisation only, and you’ll still be able to see and access any other organisations you may be a trustee of. If you want to completely delete your account, just email us at [email protected] and we’ll do that for you.
Is there an actual app?
So in our original plan, the web-based application you are using now was going to be a bit different, with more supporting information here, and the questions, reminders and results functionality all Android and Apple app based – partly because we initially envisaged a lot of the actual question answering being something trustees could do in meetings in real-time. Due to COVID hitting us mid-development we had to make some concessions in terms of what we were able to build, so currently it’s a web-based application/app, but with plans to improve and add additional functions as part of a second development phase.
This doesn’t look exactly like the Charity Governance Code?
Well spotted! For starters there’s only one set of questions, compared to the two large/small versions of the Governance Code. Our goal is to reflect the Code, rather than copy it word for word – partly for practicality (there are 140+ points in the Code), partly for usability (we’ve tried to make the separate categories somewhat comparable in length), and largely for accessibility. We’ve simplified and shortened a lot of the questions to make them clearer, a little less jargon-heavy and easier for as many people as possible to understand.
Why are you asking for ethnicity and gender information?
While helping individual boards and trustees with their governance is a big driver for this project, what we really want to do is revolutionise how funders, infrastructure and membership organisations support governance. If we can show that, for example, health charities tend to be stronger on integrity and board effectiveness but less strong on managing risk, we can help the organisations and funders that assist them to target support much more specifically. Think less generic governance training and more targeted help in specific areas. We’re gathering (anonymised and aggregated) information on gender and ethnicity to help with this, and help to identify any specific challenges trustees and Boards may be facing where gender or ethnicity could be a factor.
I still have questions!
OK, no problem! You can contact us at [email protected] with any queries and we’ll do our best to help.