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The value of being a Charity Trustee

There can be no doubt that being a charity trustee can be, and usually is, hugely rewarding and enjoyable. However, it’s important to keep up-to-date with the legal responsibilities that trustees must fulfil. There is a statutory requirement for charity trustees to act in the interests of the charity and they are corporately responsible for the fulfilment of their duties. Even when a trustee has limited time to devote to the charity or can’t attend a particular meeting, he or she is still held accountable, along with the others, for the actions of the charity. A charity trustee could not avoid responsibility for a breach of charity law [Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005] simply because he or she was not personally involved in the decision.

David Robb, Chief executive of the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) has this to say:

A charity’s trustees have a duty to regularly review their constitution, their policies and procedures, and ensure that these remain fit for purpose. Good governance requires that they actively manage the charity, and not only develop the charity’s strategy but are actively involved in that strategy’s implementation. They should also remain aware of the charity’s operating environment and have the ability and willingness to respond to change. Sometimes change can come from outside such as a loss of funding or new opportunities. But change can also be driven internally – trustees should be asking such questions as: are we still providing public benefit for our beneficiaries; how will our purposes be achieved; and what is the future direction of our charity.’

If you are a charity trustee, and want to make sure that you’re getting it right then the NIDOS MOT can help. It covers basic good practice and legal requirements of any organisation in an easy to digest way. If you’re not currently meeting the minimum legal requirements, it will help you with action planning to make sure that you do.

A few examples of benchmark areas covered in the MOT:

  • Board members are selected because they have the necessary skills for leadership of the organisation and have oversight of staff/volunteers activities.
  • The Board has read and understands the organisations governing document.
  • The organisation has legally compliant recruitment & people management processes.
  • Volunteers & staff are given a Health & Safety induction before they start work and appropriate insurance is in place.
  • The organisation is aware of the legal requirements in relation to prevention of fraud & bribery.   (Training is available to help with this benchmark through NIDOS in partnership with SCVO and Morton Fraser.  Please book as soon as possible to ensure a place).

NIDOS is here to help members pass their Effectiveness Toolkit Stage 1: MOT before considering Stage 2: Full Assessment. It is vitally important that your organisation knows that it is not only efficient at what it does but this is done effectively.
Good governance should be rooted in your organisation so that all areas of work, including fundraising, programmes and communications is of maximum benefit to the people and communities you support, not forgetting your volunteers & supporters.

Contact Lynne on effectiveness@nidos.org.uk for details of how she can help. Or get started on your MOT now.