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Top Ten Good Governance Tips For Charity Trustees

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As a trustee you are ultimately responsible for the charity, although not involved directly with the day to day running.

Many trustees are appointed because they bring expertise and skills and almost all will have a particular interest in their charity. However, having a passion for your charity’s cause and vision isn’t enough to be an effective trustee.  You will find yourself responsible for serious governance issues which can range from hiring – and even firing – chief executives; health and safety matters; legislation and regulation; performance management and financial challenges.

Here are my 10 tips on good governance and best practice for charity and voluntary sector trustees.

  • Ensure that your trust deeds and other important documentation such as insurance and licences are current and in one place
  • Keep your risk register up to date – the Charity Commission has excellent resources on risk management for smaller charities
  • When you’re appointing new trustees look at your existing skills’ set and invite professionals with particular expertise eg IT, finance, HR, marketing or legal to fill any gaps. That’s how I became involved with charities
  • Ensure that new trustees are appointed according to your constitution and that they go through an induction process and understand their roles and obligations
  • Minute all meetings properly and ensure that minutes are kept safely
  • Make sure that you have lodged all necessary documents with the Charity Commission
  • You should be confident that accounting requirements and methods are robust. If not, you could invite a local accountant to join the board of trustees
  • If your charity recruits volunteers you need to be sure that processes for selection, training and management of them are formalised and include any statutory obligations such as CRB checks
  • Charities must adhere to the same employment regulations as other employers.  Don’t get caught out on complex issues and changes to the law -  take expert advice if necessary 
  • Your charity must observe data protection laws.  Public sector organisations have received six figure fines for breaches such as losing confidential data or not storing it securely.

For more information on hlw Keeble Hawson’s charity group and it’s free seminar programme please email

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