Charity Trustees – Real world responsibilities
Charity Trustees are needed by the charity commission to comply with their idea of the essential trustee.Their work shows that when things go wrong in charities, it’s often because trustees didn’t understand their duties, and as a consequence failed to do simple things such as:
• follow the rules in their charity’s governing document
• understand the finances and support their chief executive
• check that controls and procedures work, or that they exist
• ask difficult questions and challenge assumptions
• follow proper decision-making principles
This is all very well but what many want form Charity Trustees is a bit more real world. What people are asking for are “real” help guides.
Heres my list.
- Dont just turn up to Trustee Meetings and not engage with the support your charity needs.
- Have continuing professional development for all Trustees. training is an ongoing thing.
- Consider how Trustees might be appraised?
- Ensure you have a Values and behaviours document as well as an aims and objectives document.
- Run a leadership values and behaviours process within your Trustees meetings.
- Be exemplary (if you start raising your voice in a meeting you are not exemplary)
- Ensure you fully support your Chief Executive/Executive Director and finance Director
- Have a clear Strategic Plan, that you use to direct the organisation
Ensure your Chief Exec uses the plan to steer the organisation
Have Clear objectives for your Executive
Ensure you have a collaborative CPD/ training plan for your Chief Exec
Ensure your Chief Exec has regular appraisals.
Ensure the Chief Exec regularly appraises the senior team.
- Expect Monthly reports from finance, Fund-Raising and your Chief Exec/Exec Director.
- Check and double check on the validity of Trustees who may gain benefit from the charity
- Check and double check on Trustees with a manipulative agenda.
Please add more in comments…
A Critical Friend
Trustees should be a critical friend to the executive of their charity, offering strategic direction but NOT managment. Its not good being harsh and highly critical but not a friend just as it is no good being a great pal but not having a critique where necessary.
Trusteeship is a difficult and responsible job, that many Charity Trustees take very seriously, some do from a sense of duty and others for various reasons. This Article in the Guardian is an eye opener. At the same time would we do better if we incentivised Trustees?
Equally the job of the executive in a charity is very hard and needs Trustees that bring a detailed and professional focus to their work, but then after all they are volunteers.
As Ben Summerskill has said: We all know that good trustees are like gold dust – just as a good treasurer and chair are like frankincense and myrrh. In any size of charity, the ability to support without interfering, to challenge without carping and to take pleasure rather than credit in success are always hugely welcomed by staff and volunteers.
But instead of following only the charity commissions rules, I hope Charity Trustees might begin to think more about real world actions that support their organisations and their executive to make better decisions. Charity Trustees are needed with curiosity, with imagination, with behaviours and values (not just competencies) that fit those adopted by your charity.