Voluntary Arts was announced as winner of the Board Diversity & Inclusion category at the Charity Governance Awards 2017 last night (24 May 2017) in London. This award recognises the work undertaken by Voluntary Arts recently to make positive strides in improving the diversity and inclusion within the organisation at board level and in its relationships with creative groups across the UK and Ireland.

The BAME Advisory Panel established by the Board of Voluntary Arts undertook a year of activity including interviews with groups and creative practitioners across the nations. This culminated in a series of recommendations for the organisation, the Open Conversations report and the addition of four members of this panel to the board of Voluntary Arts last November.


Robin Simpson, Chief Executive of Voluntary Arts, has said:

Voluntary Arts has moved, in a short space of time, from a position of embarrassment about its lack of ethnic diversity to a confidence that it is pioneering a new approach to developing strong, effective connections to a range of BAME communities. The organisation is clear that it is still only at the start of a journey but that first step, which allowed Voluntary Arts to break its cycle of inactivity, has been fascinating, inspiring and great fun. I hope our experience might act as a model for other organisations facing a similar challenge.

Open Conversations report

Download the Open Conversations report and see how this work could help inform your own organisation [PDF]


The winners of the UK Charity Governance Awards 2017 were announced last night (24 May 2017) at an event at Clothworkers’ Hall, London. Seven charities will share in the £35,000 prize pot, each winning a £5,000 unrestricted grant.

At the ceremony, which featured guest speaker Sir Vince Cable, Asthma UK was named the first recipient of the new ‘Embracing Digital’ award for transforming the charity with their bold digital strategy including a new ‘personalised’ website, plus funding for digital health research projects and smartphone apps. Just nine months after launch, the charity reached over half a million more people, inspiring 33% of users to see their doctor or call Asthma UK’s helpline.

Voluntary Arts Chief Executive Robin Simpson and Chair of the Board Louise de Winter interviewed at the Charity Governance Awards 2017

Charity Governance Awards 2017 – Final results by category

Board diversity and inclusivity
Winner – Voluntary Arts
• Runners-up – George House Trust; MindOut

Embracing Digital
• Winner – Asthma UK
• Runners-up – Raise the Roof Kenya; Royal Opera House

Embracing opportunity and harnessing risk
• Winner – Winner: Preston Road Women’s Centre
• Runners-up – Body & Soul; Changing Futures North East

Improving impact – charities with 3 staff or fewer
• Winner – St Peter’s Community Wellbeing Projects
• Runners-up – Green’s Windmill Trust; The INSPIRE Foundation

Improving impact – charities with 4-25 paid staff
• Winner – Prisoner’s Education Trust (PET)
• Runners-up – FutureVersity (Tower Hamlets Summer Education); Key4Life

Improving impact – charities with 26+ paid staff
• Winner – Step by Step
• Runners-up – St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital; Treloar Trust

Managing turnaround
• Winner – Off The Record (Bristol)
• Runners-up – Dementia UK; Kentish Town City Farm

Michael Howell, Chair of the Trusteeship Committee at the award organisers The Clothworkers’ Company, said:

Congratulations to our outstanding winners – they provide the charity sector with sterling examples of what can be achieved with excellent governance.

Highly-skilled trustees, diverse boards and their innovative use of digital technology are all areas that the House of Lords Select Committee on Charities has recommended as a focus for the sector. Therefore, we are delighted that our winners provide real-life examples of how that can be achieved. I encourage charities to download our free e-book which is full of inspiring stories from these superb shortlisted charities – including, of course, our winners! I hope this will provide inspiration for new journeys towards great governance.

The free e-book is now available to download at the Charity Governance Awards website.

The Charity Governance Awards are organised by The Clothworkers’ Company – a City Livery company that supports trusteeship initiatives – in partnership with not-for-profit consultancy NPC (New Philanthropy Capital), volunteer matching charity Reach, and recruitment specialists Prospectus.

The 20-strong judging panel boasts a wealth of experience in charity governance and the voluntary sector. The judges include Michele Acton (CEO, Fight for Sight), Dawn Austwick (CEO, Big Lottery Fund), Tony Cohen (Chair, Barnardo’s), Vicki Hearn (Director, Nominet Trust), Vinay Nair (Co-founder, Lightful), Dan Corry (CEO, New Philanthropy Capital), Janet Thorne (CEO, Reach volunteering) and David Gold (CEO, Prospectus) among many other notable names. (See www.charitygovernanceawards.co.uk/judges for a full list of judges).

For more details, visit www.charitygovernanceawards.co.uk. You can follow the awards on Twitter using hashtag #charitygov17. Entry for the 2018 Charity Governance Awards will open in October 2017.