From Safeguarding to Risk Management, understanding the role of being a Trustee is complicated. From obtaining information about key legal responsibilities to best guidance for good practice, there is a lot to learn. Ensure you ask the right professionals about these things before committing. You really don’t want to get things wrong or say yes to something you can’t deliver on.
If you are or are thinking of becoming a Trustee, it is vital that you seek the resources to get it right. There are legal responsibilities, there is best practice as well as good guidance.
As the Treasurer of a Charity – you will need to know:
- The full role of what is expected.
- Delivery of current legal and accountancy practice.
- Getting to grips with the latest charity finance obligations including Charity SORP.
- VAT for charities: what applies to you, and what doesn’t.
- The benefits of Gift Aid, and how to get this applied for.
- Awareness of charity finance rules across all four nations of the UK.
As a Company Secretary – you will need to know:
- All detailed duties and responsibilities.
- How to Deal with Companies House and Charity Commission Filings.
- How to keep good records.
- Typical Tasks – weekly, monthly and annually.
- The details of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015.
The subject of Safeguarding for all trustees:
- Responsibility to identify, assess and manage risks to the charity. A major risk facing charity trustees relates to the protection and safeguarding of people who come into contact with them.
- Provision of the necessary tools to create and implement a risk management policy appropriate to the organisation and identify what actions they need to take to implement a robust approach to safeguarding.
What should you know:
- Why you need to have a risk management policy
- The legal requirements for trustees to make a risk management statement in their annual report
- A model of how to implement risk management policy including the creation of a risk register
- Identification of what should be included in a safeguarding policy
- An understanding of what checks should be carried out on staff and volunteers that have contact with children or adults at risk
- What action to take regarding reported incidents or allegations
General thoughts on governance:
- What to supervise and manage
- Improving communications
- Creating and supporting financial strategy
- Understanding and reviewing financial information
- Using common sense
- Understanding and mitigating risk
- Demanding action
- Understanding reserves
- Trustee responsibilities for year-end accounts and the Trustee Annual Report
My thoughts are – don’t enter into one of these roles without all the necessary information about what is expected of you, what your expectations are of the other Trustees, the CEO and the staff of the charity.
You must appreciate that this is not just a “attend a couple of meetings and sign off some annual accounts roles”. If this is how the role is sold to you, then think twice. Ensure that you take appropriate advice, research the organisation you are wanting to work with and look into their past performance.
Your first “Good Governance task” needs to be to look into the charity you are joining BEFORE you then learn all about the risk management, safeguarding, as well as the roles and responsibilities you are joining up for! Take good advice before you start to give it.
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