The Volunteer Service is helping to celebrate National Trustees’ Week from 1st – 5th November. If you’ve ever thought about becomming a Trustee or would like to find out more about this unique but incredibly improtant role, we’re here to help. Below, we’ve gathered together some information on the roles and responsibilities of a trustee as well as looking at the kind of volunteer roles available to you across Hampshire right now.
What is a charity trustee?
Trustees have overall control of a charity and are responsible for making sure it’s doing what it was set up to do. They may be known by other titles, such as:
- board members
- committee members
Whatever they are called, trustees are the people who lead the charity and decide how it is run. Being a trustee means making decisions that will impact on people’s lives. Depending on what the charity does, you will be making a difference to your local community or to society as a whole.
Trustees use their skills and experience to support their charities, helping them achieve their aims. Trustees also often learn new skills during their time on the board.
Who can be a trustee?
You must be at least 16 years old to be a trustee of a charity that is a company or a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO), or at least 18 to be a trustee of any other sort of charity.
You must be properly appointed following the procedures and any restrictions in the charity’s governing document. You must not act as a trustee if you are disqualified unless authorised to do so by a waiver from the Commission. There are further restrictions for charities that work with children or adults at risk.
Trustees’ have 6 main duties
1. Ensure your charity is carrying out its purposes for the public benefit
You and your co-trustees must make sure that the charity is carrying out the purposes for which it is set up, and no other purpose.
2. Comply with your charity’s governing document and the law
You should take reasonable steps to find out about legal requirements, for example by reading relevant guidance or taking appropriate advice when you need to.
Registered charities must keep their details on the register up to date and ensure they send the right financial and other information to the commission in their annual return or annual update.
3. Act in your charity’s best interests
- do what you and your co-trustees (and no one else) decide will best enable the charity to carry out its purposes
- with your co-trustees, make balanced and adequately informed decisions, thinking about the long term as well as the short term
- avoid putting yourself in a position where your duty to your charity conflicts with your personal interests or loyalty to any other person or body
- not receive any benefit from the charity unless it’s properly authorised and is clearly in the charity’s interests; this also includes anyone who is financially connected to you, such as a partner, dependent child or business partner
4. Manage your charity’s resources responsibly
You must act responsibly, reasonably and honestly. This is sometimes called the duty of prudence. Prudence is about exercising sound judgement.
You and your co-trustees should put appropriate procedures and safeguards in place and take reasonable steps to ensure that these are followed. Otherwise you risk making the charity vulnerable to fraud or theft, or other kinds of abuse, and being in breach of your duty.
5. Act with reasonable care and skill
As someone responsible for governing a charity, you:
- must use reasonable care and skill, making use of your skills and experience and taking appropriate advice when necessary
- should give enough time, thought and energy to your role, for example by preparing for, attending and actively participating in all trustees’ meetings
6. Ensure your charity is accountable
You and your co-trustees must comply with statutory accounting and reporting requirements. You should also:
- be able to demonstrate that your charity is complying with the law, well run and effective
- ensure appropriate accountability to members, if your charity has a membership separate from the trustees
- ensure accountability within the charity, particularly where you delegate responsibility for particular tasks or decisions to staff or volunteers
For more information on becomming a trustee see here
What trustee roles are available locally and how do I apply?
For more information on local trustee roles in Hampshire and to apply see here
Information taken from www.gov.uk