As we all know, this year has been turbulent to say the least, bringing with it unprecedented challenges to charities throughout England and Wales. We have seen admirable efforts of trustees, the majority of whom are volunteers, to support their charities in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, giving up even greater amounts of their time in testing personal circumstances. As such, there has never been a more important time to celebrate the work trustees do to ensure charity can continue to thrive and inspire trust.
Today marks the start of Trustees’ Week (2 to 6 November 2020), an annual event to do just that.
I hope – and have indeed heard – that our flexible and pragmatic approach to regulation during the pandemic has been helpful to charities during this volatile period.
Whilst the pandemic has meant we too have had to adapt to new ways of working, I am pleased that it has not stopped us from moving forward on plans set out in our strategy to give charities the tools they need to succeed.
Committed to our journey of improvement and working to help trustees clearly understand and meet their responsibilities, we have revamped our core guidance.
While an important part of our role as regulator is to hold charities and individuals to account when things go wrong, it is central to our work that we support the vast majority of trustees who want to do the right thing in the way they run their charities. Trustees are our first line of defence in ensuring their charities stay within the law and meet public expectations in how they go about their vital work.
Good governance is not a bureaucratic detail – it underpins the delivery of a charity’s purposes to the high standards expected by the public, and is all the more important in the midst of this pandemic when the stresses and strains of running a charity are so much greater.
That’s why this week, we have launched 5 new 5-minute guides, in English and Welsh, covering a ‘core syllabus’ of basics that trustees need to know.
They explain the basics of:
- financial oversight
- achieving a charity’s purposes
- good decision making
- addressing conflicts of interest
- what to file with the Commission and what support is available
We know that being a trustee can be a full and demanding role, all the more so during a global pandemic. So these guides aim to act as a ‘go-to’ for simple and clear advice.
In preparing the guides, we have undertaken user testing with trustees and engaged with sector bodies. They have been designed with real trustees and real situations in mind.
So if you are confronted with a difficult decision, remind yourself of the factors to consider by spending 5 minutes reading about good decision making.
Or brush up on the financial basics.
Of course, these are not the only pieces of guidance that trustees should look to – and they signpost to more detailed information and advice for specific circumstances.
Whether you’re a new trustee or an established board celebrating another year of achievements, please ‘take five’ to think about how you and your peers can make use of these new quick-use guides to build on the important work you are doing.
Look out on social media for the messages and activities that we’re running throughout this week, focusing on a different topic each day. Follow the hashtag #TrusteesWeek on Twitter and LinkedIn for all the latest information, and to celebrate the vital role that trustees play.