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The Charity Commission is currently in the process of updating “The Essential Trustee” with consultation on-going until 17 February 2015. Trustees are responsible for the governance of a charity and good governance is crucial in running a successful charity.

You may have noticed an increase in the number of charities being investigated by the Charity Commission for one misdemeanour or another. Often the underlying cause of this is poor governance with Trustees failing to intervene early enough in matters that could easily be prevented otherwise. Therefore, in order to safeguard against such issues, charities should ensure that all Trustees have the necessary experience and skills to perform their duties.

As part of the Trustee recruitment process the skill set and experience of each candidate should be considered. However with the position of Trustee usually being a voluntary role, sometimes charities are not in a position to attract high skilled people with vast experience. In which case, it is the responsibility of the charity to provide Trustees with training in order to obtain the relevant skills to form an effective Trustee board.

Trustee training doesn’t simply mean having one Trustee away-day every year, nor does it mean sending Trustees on multiple courses and seminars throughout the year. As part of the Trustee appraisal process the board’s skills and experience should be assessed and, from this, any training needs can be identified. This allows for training to be made relevant and appropriate to the Charity’s and Trustee’s needs, rather than simply the generic annual update. Do your Trustees actually know how the charity operates on a day-to-day basis? If not, simply having a Trustee Involvement day once a year may help boost their knowledge and understanding of the charity.

Trustees should also bear in mind that they are the people ultimately responsible for the charity. Therefore they should also be proactive in obtaining the necessary skills and experiences to perform their role. Trustees, if they are not already doing so, should keep up to date with the latest Charity Commission news, in particular the latest investigations and consider whether any of these could apply to their own charities and what lessons could be learnt. With the charity world ever evolving Trustees and charities must keep up to date or else they will find themselves and their charity falling short of what is required of them.

Kreston Reeves are able to provide Trustee governance training courses. If you would like to register your interest for a course or require any advice on this subject, please get in touch with your usual Kreston Reeves contact or email, or visit our charities page to learn about our services.

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