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Charity Commission’s ‘quick and easy’ guides to assist trustees

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The charity regulator for England and Wales has launched a new set of simple, easy to understand guides, designed to help trustees run their charities in line with the law.  These new guides cover five key aspects of charity management - a kind of ‘core syllabus’ covering the basics that the Commission expects all trustees to be aware of. 

They explain the basics of: 

Managing your charity’s finance 

How to make sure your money is safe, properly used, and accounted for. 

Achieving your charity’s stated purpose 

Trustees should run their charity in a way that complies with the governing document and the law.  This includes making sure the charity achieves its purposes.  Every trustee is responsible for this. Even if certain tasks are carried out by individual trustees, employees or volunteers, all the trustees are responsible.  

Good decision-making 

Trustees need to work together to make the best decisions for your charity.  Often there’s no perfect solution. Your decisions might be different to those that another group of people would reach - but it must be an informed and responsible decision in your situation. 

Conflicts of interest  

Trustees must make decisions based only on what’s best for the charity. Do not allow your personal interests, or the interests of people or organisations connected to you, to influence these decisions.  

There are two common types of conflict of interest:  

  • financial conflicts 
  • loyalty conflicts 

You can find out more about conflicts of interest in our earlier article here.  

What to send to, or file with, the Charity Commission 

Trustees need to know what the charity must send to the Commission and how to get help to get it right. The main tasks are 

  • Charity registration details       
  • Annual return, report and accounts       
  • Dealing with serious problems and reporting them      

 

Overview 

This ‘gateway’ level guidance will make it easier and quicker for all trustees to check what is expected and to find more detailed information if needed, which is all the more important as charities respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Commission’s research and testing with trustees have helped shape their design and content. 

Purpose of the new guidelines 

The publications come as part of the Charity Commission’s aim to deliver updated core guidance and an improved website, making it easier for trustees - who are almost always unpaid volunteers - to access the information they need. It’s in line with the Commission’s strategic priority of ensuring trustees have the tools and understanding they need to succeed, and helping them maximise the difference they make. 

The Commission stresses that, whilst the guides may be basic, they are designed to serve the needs of experienced trustees as well as those new to the role. Years of experience cannot immunise even the very best trustees from running into questions or problems. 

Find out more and access the guides here.  

Further advice and support

As always, if you need advice and support on any aspect of working with the Charity Commission – especially if you are considering moving your organisation towards charitable status – do contact our Community Development Officers at [email protected] or phone 01362 698216.