During the summer of 2017, the Charity Commission for England and Wales (CCEW) used some of their new powers to issue the first official warning to a charity for failing to fully comply with an agreed action plan to remedy weaknesses in the charity's operations. An official warning is the first step in the process towards potentially suspending a charity trustee, or group of charity trustees!
The sector has been under increasing scrutiny from the public, the press and the regulators recently so it feels that this is an appropriate time to revisit the responsibilities of trustees to ensure that your charity client does not end up in the same position.
The first thing to remind trustees of is that the role is extremely important. Ultimately they are responsible for how other people's money is being used. Donors give money for the charity to use towards their aims so trustees are 'trusted' to ensure that this happens.
The role of the trustee
Charity trustees are '...the persons having the general control and management of the administration of a charity.'
They have six main responsibilities as set out in the CCEW guidance, CC3 - The Essential Trustee - What you need to know. These are:
Alongside the CCEW guidance, there is the Charity Governance Code published by the Good Governance Steering Group and supported by the CCEW, which gives trustees extensive guidance on how to run their charity and the issues involved.
All trustees need to be aware of these areas and should have them as favourites in their web browser.
Being a trustee is about much more than attending the occasional meeting and the annual fundraiser...it is a hands on, regular commitment and should not be entered into lightly.
But it will also be immensely rewarding when trustees can see that benefits the charity is providing and they consider the part they are playing in that work and the good governance of the resources.
How can we help
Mercia are offering specialist training on helping charity trustees meet their responsibilities. Our three hour specialist course is designed to examine key areas where participants might be asked to advise or give guidance to charity trustees and focuses on non-financial disclosures and the other responsibilities required by the Commission. It will also consider the results of recent Commission inquiries and examples of published trustees' reports. To book your place, visit our website.
We also offer a Charity newsletter with the latest accounting, taxation and governance issues for charity trustees and senior management, ensuring your charity clients are kept up to date of all current issues in the sector. To order our newsletter, visit our website.