Governance consultancy and support
for voluntary organisations

[About Sandy - graphic copyright 2001 Steve Simpson]

"Your training session still remains the most enjoyable, appropriate and useful one which I have ever attended."
Participant on Volunteers and the law course
— commenting a year later

I have been a freelance trainer, consultant and author in the voluntary sector since 1980, working primarily on governance issues with a wide range of charities, campaigns and community-based organisations. My main specialisms are legal aspects of voluntary sector governance and management and helping boards become more effective.

[Just About Managing book cover] I have written widely about voluntary sector governance and management. My best known books, referred to as "voluntary sector bibles", are Just About Managing? Effective management for voluntary organisations and community groups (known as JAM, with four editions published in 1989, 1992, 1998 and 2005), The Voluntary Sector Legal Handbook (known as VSLH, published in 1996 and 2001) and The Russell-Cooke Voluntary Sector Legal Handbook (the 3rd edition of VSLH, published in 2009).

Initially, my freelance work was primarily with individual organisations to help them with their administration, fundraising, publicity and publications. By 1981 my experience in campaigning over the previous two decades had been distilled into Peaceworking: A campaigning guide for local groups and in 1982 I edited and contributed to Martin Jelfs' Manual for Action: Techniques to enable social change groups to increase their effectiveness.

Later in 1982 I developed a 10-evening course for the Workers Educational Association, on "Running a community organisation", and in the early 2000's was still offering a similar 10-evening course, usually organised by councils for voluntary service or a local authority. By then the majority of my work was open training on a wide range of legal and governance topics, usually one- or two-day courses organised by CVSs or other other local or national umbrella organisations and infrastructure support organisations.

[Legal Handbook book cover] My main courses were - and remained - board/trustee/management committee roles and responsibilities; legal structures and charitable status; charity and company law update; considering incorporation; reviewing your governing document; legal responsibilities of voluntary organisations; legal update for voluntary organisations; introduction to employment law; volunteers and the law; and risk assessment and management for small organisations.

I also ran courses on these topics specifically designed for CVSs and other second tier and local authority infrastructure support workers who had to advise and support organisations, and provided training about the voluntary sector for local authorities and other funders.

Alongside open training I did a similar range of courses for individual organisations, ranging from tiny local groups to national organisations, covering the topics above and more. Such training was always tailored very specifically to the organisation, and always included a report with recommendations and suggestions, and support in implementing the recommendations.

As well as training I had always undertaken in-house consultancies or facilitated discussions to help with in-depth problems, board effectiveness and other governance issues, organisational restructuring, constitution reviews, incorporation and other major changes. By 2015 I had moved away from most training and was concentrating primarily on consultancy. I have now semi-retired even from consultancy, but still do occasional governance reviews, constitution reviews (articles of association etc), mentoring and in-house board training. I also regularly provide free information or signposting to organisations which contact me with specific queries.

As well as training and consultancy, I have written extensively and was well known for my many publications about local organising, voluntary sector governance and management, and how the law affects voluntary organisations. For more than 20 years I produced a widely used and respected free legal update email service for voluntary organisations, with all emails also published on this website. Unfortunately family pressures from 2013 meant I no longer had time to research and write updates on hundreds or even dozens of topics, and when the legal update website pages became dangerously out of date they had to be removed.

I have a BA cum laude in liberal arts with majors in sociology and journalism from Syracuse University (1965) in the United States, and worked as a social work administrator and as a social psychology researcher on community care until moving to the UK in 1968. I worked for one of the first academic microfilm publishers in the UK (1973-76), and as coordinator of the Campaign Against Arms Trade (1975-80). My freelance training in the voluntary sector started in 1980, and alongside that I also did a large amount of writing, editing and other publishing work for campaigning and other organisations in the early 1980s, and worked part-time as a sub-editor in financial publishing from 1983-85.

In 1991 I co-founded the Management Development Network (now Consultants for Good), a network of freelance management and governance trainers and consultants who work primarily or exclusively with voluntary organisations, and remained an MDN convenor until 2015. I was on the advisory committee for PEACe, the Personnel Employment Advice and Conciliation service at London Voluntary Service Council for many years, and was an external examiner for Goldsmiths College's voluntary sector management courses for three years.

During the 1960s I was actively involved in the civil rights and anti-war movements in the United States, and after moving to the UK remained actively involved in peace organisations for many years, including serving as an executive committee member of the National Peace Council, an umbrella organisation, for most of the time from 1981 to 1998, and as a trustee and secretary of a peace movement educational charity, the United World Education and Research Trust, from 1980 until it was wound up in 2006. I was secretary of my tenants and residents association from 2001-2006 and remain actively involved with local activities.

2023 Sandy Adirondack
Graphic 1998 Steve Simpson

Governance consultancy and support for voluntary organisations

Flat 39 Gabriel House, 10 Odessa Street, London SE16 7HQ
Tel 07973 116264, 020 7232 0726
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