Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Angus Hannah, Trustee & Vice-Chair of the Voluntary Action Fund shares his Trusteeship success with us


Like all good stories, this one starts with a chance encounter. While in a tutorial in Napier University Dr Miles Weaver was filling in for the regular tutor who was off for some reason.

He mentioned his work on equalities in leadership, and the need for young people to take the initiative and start representing our peers, rather than accepting another generation representing us and mentioned Young Trustees in Scotland.

I listened to him politely and decided, half-heartedly, to see what was what. I went along to an information day, and listened to the ideas and although was interested in the idea, had other things on my mind – studying, partying, and applying for internships for my Year in Industry.

Fast-Forward 6 months and I was still struggling to find an internship – the whole class had gone through the soul-crushing, ego-deflating routine which is repeated rejections from companies – Thanks, but no thanks; I was recovering from a horrific 6-week bout of glandular fever in which I lost 2 stone; my girlfriend had decided enough was enough; and I still didn’t have a bloody internship!

Then another 6 months and it was October: I was happily working for EDF-Energy at Torness Power Station and was looking for ways to improve myself, while giving something back to society. Happily, I received an email from the university inviting students to apply to the Get-On-Board program, a 3-module evening class to give students a professional Corporate Governance accreditation, with a view to put more young people in positions of responsibility and governance within the voluntary sector.

I’ve always been one for widening my horizons, and taking the opportunities afforded to me – especially if I feel they will put me out of my comfort zone, and felt that learning about corporate governance during a time in which the public perceptions of corporations are of low moral standards would be particularly topical.

So without being particularly hopeful I applied to this Get-On-Board program, and somehow was accepted. This was an eye-opening opportunity, with Professor Karl Georges taking the classes in fun, exciting, and engaging ways while being seated in what One thought of as board-room style – all very exciting!

One of the benefits of being on the Get-On-Board program are the updates of trustee places available in the local area. One of these which piqued my interest was the Voluntary Action Fund, or VAF, which is a national charity which distributes grants on behalf of the Scottish Government in the areas of Equalities, Violence Against Women, Volunteering, and Anti-Sectarianism. But it is more than just money, it is a charity which advises their funding charities and helps them in more qualifiable ways.

The main attraction was that this charity aligns with my moral compass – the need for equality, my ability to battle for those who I feel are being unfairly treated, support for vulnerable people, and the need for public money to be used properly.

So off I went for the interview, which was with the chairman, CEO, and a trustee of the charity, and we mainly talked about the work which VAF does, while eyeing each other up to see if the charity would fit in with me, and vice versa.

Apparently it went well, as I was invited for another interview. This interview was more focussed on me, what my ambitions were, where I saw the charity going, what I felt about the charity, and whether I felt it was doing a good job.

Yet again, seemingly it all went well, because I was invited onto the board as a trustee. This was a great honour and privilege to be in a position to make decisions on the strategical direction of a national charity, decisions which, hopefully, will have a positive impact on Scottish society, and which will support charities which are doing essential work throughout the country.

As is my way, I felt that the only way to go about this was to jump head first and get as involved as possible, so was accepted as a member of the Property and Finance Committee, as well as the Business Development Committee. This gave me the opportunity to learn more about good, responsible governance as well as the work which the charity does.

After attending several board and committee meetings the post for vice chairman became available and was brought up during a board meeting. The question was – who should the next vice chairman be?

The thoughts going through my head were mainly along the lines of – What an opportunity to be in a leading position within a national charity which is a power of good in society, against the doubts which must creep into most peoples’ minds – Am I too Young? Do I have the Experience? Do I have the necessary knowledge? And the final one – Am I good enough?

Then a sudden, sharp thought came through – a trustee must show leadership, and first and foremost follow his fiduciary duty towards the charity, and that this was an opportunity not to be missed – so I gingerly put forward “I know that I am a young trustee, and that there are several member of the board with more experience than myself, but I would like to put my name forward as the Vice-Chairman”… and somehow I was voted through unanimously.

It’s been a tremendous privilege to get this opportunity and I owe a debt of gratitude towards all those who have shown interest in my position and encouraged me to back myself – from Miles Weaver and Karl Georges at the Get-on-Board Program, Napier University, and EDF-Energy for allowing me to take the time to go to my board meetings.

I am getting a huge amount of satisfaction from being a vice chairman, knowing I am representing a charity which is doing a huge amount of good work through out Scotland, and pushing the need for community capital in all modern societies.

Many young people feel they aren’t getting heard, that they can’t make a difference, and that their future is already decided. This story shows that is not the case, and with a little ambition, drive, and a lot of enthusiasm anything can happen.

So to any young people reading this – become a trustee of a charity you believe in, build your employability skills and your knowledge of corporate governance, but most of all help our charities be more representative of those they help, and make sure our voices can be heard.

For further information, please visit:


Friday, 14 November 2014

Trustees and Fundraising: Could you be doing more to boost your charity's bottom line?

The article below has been written for Trustees' Week by Alistair McLean, Chief Executive of the Fundraising Standards Board – the self-regulatory body for charity fundraising in the UK.

Trustees Week is a chance to celebrate the critical role of charity trustees; their energy, drive and commitment to the organisations they work with and their beneficiaries.

It is also an opportunity for trustees to take inspiration from other trustees and consider whether there is anything more that they can bring to the table, particularly when it comes to fundraising.

After all, trustees have a big weight on their shoulders. Responsibility for the sustainability of the charity as a whole lies with them and that means understanding what funding is coming into the organisation just as well as how the charity is managing its expenditure.

Sourcing funding is often one of the hardest and most important tasks for charities to master and as such we encourage all trustees to take an interest in how this is being done.

For every charity, this means something different.  In some organisations, trustees might have a distant involvement in the fundraising process. In others, trustees make the lion’s share of fundraising decisions and are regularly involved in reaching out through their networks for funds.

Trustees might not need to know how to fundraise themselves, but they certainly need to know that it is being done, that it is well managed and, ultimately, that it will enable the organisation to achieve its objectives.

Whether trustees are involved in raising funds themselves or advising at a strategic level, they all need to know that it is being done responsibly, honestly and effectively, and that the charity is adhering to regulations.

In the UK, best practice for charity fundraising is set out in the Institute of Fundraising’s Code of Fundraising Practice and regulated by us at the Fundraising Standards Board. Rather than a statutory scheme, it is a self-regulatory approach, requiring charities to opt in and commit to meeting those standards.

To date, well over half of all voluntary income in this country is generated through FRSB member charities and the number is growing all the time, reflecting the sectors’ growing sense of accountability and greater rigour in the way that charities ask for funds.

So why not take the opportunity this week, during Trustees Week to review your organisation’s approach to fundraising and to consider what more you could do to encourage your charity’s supporters to give with confidence.

For more information, see www.frsb.org.uk.

Navigating the Challenges of Public Sector Partnerships - by Amy Brettell, Head of Charities & Social Organisations, Zurich Municipal

This is an exciting and challenging time for trustees.  Deeper partnerships with the public sector and increasing demand for services means that charities – more than ever since the creation of the welfare state – play an essential role in the provision of public services. 

Charities are increasingly engaged in public service delivery and the government is seeking to open more avenues for charities – both large and small – to enter into public service contracts.  

While this means your charity has an unprecedented opportunity to positively impact the communities they operate in, you also have to navigate the new risks arising from taking on responsibility for public service delivery.

·         Funding – Organisations must ensure they balance delivery of short-term public service contracts against their long-term financial stability.  Strong financial planning is important to ensure that your charity can survive even if major contracts are not renewed, and continue to provide services to other groups.
 
·         Liability – Working in partnership can give rise to economies of scale and efficiencies.  However, these complex relationships can often blur lines of accountability when it comes to risk and responsibility.   To help protect your charity and volunteers from litigation, there should be a clear understanding of where liability lies at the start of any partnership. 

·         Charitable purposes – Working in partnership will mean your charity has to respond to many, sometimes conflicting, demands.  Meeting contractual responsibilities is essential, but you must also ensure you are delivering the charitable purposes for which your organisation was set up.

By ensuring that your charity’s core purposes are embedded in all its activities, and that good governance and strong risk management procedures are baked into how your charity is run, trustees play a critical role in helping your organisation successfully navigate public sector partnerships and deliver public services.
 
If you would like further information on the strategic and operational risks associated with public service delivery, please visit the Zurich webpage or contact your local Risk and Insurance Consultant on charities@uk.zurich.com.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Thanks to a Roundabout Trustee

I am responding to your call out for inspiring stories of trusteeship. I work for Roundabout (registered charity 297491) the UK’s largest arts therapy charity, which has been supporting vulnerable children and adults throughout Greater London for the last 29 years. 

Here at Roundabout we are fortunate enough to have had a wonderful group of trustees supporting the charity's work right from its earliest beginnings. Our current dedicated trustees Alison Kelly, Paul Girbow, Mark Stanley, Roger Winn, Bronwen Lord and Yvonne Winter have collectively supported Roundabout for over 64 years. They are all equally passionate about Roundabout and we appreciate everything they all do but I would like to tell you about how Mark Stanley supports Roundabout.

A year and a half ago Roundabout launched its new website, www.roundaboutdramatherapy.org.ukdesigned as a generous gift by Ben Keen, a friend of the charity.  Since its launch Mark has had a pivotal role in updating and developing the website further. He provides the team with feedback, from Google analytics and ensures that team news, annual reports etc are updated speedily onto the website.

Mark has supported me in launching our Twitter feed (@roundaboutdrama) a year ago, including researching how to do this then sharing this with me and the Project Directors Lynn Cedar and Deborah Haythorne. When I am unable to tweet, Mark takes on this role including a fortnight of daily tweets this summer when I was on annual leave.

Mark has also researched and advised Roundabout on best value IT equipment.

As Roundabout only has funding to employ one WTE administrator and my post is only I day a week (with responsibility for Roundabout’s website/twitter/PR etc) Mark’s commitment and dedication has been a lifeline. I speak to Mark regularly and at great length as we troubleshoot the challenges of raising awareness of dramatherapy and fundraising amongst other things.

All of this of course, as with all trustees, is work carried out by Mark in his ‘free time’ for no payment. What makes Marks trusteeship even more inspiring is that Mark suffers long term chronic back pain which makes it impossible for him to stay in one position for more than a few minutes without the pain increasing. In recent years Mark has been unable to attend trustees meetings in person as the journey would cause him too much pain, instead he joins the meetings via Skype. At times Mark will need to divide a piece of work into several short bursts of work over a number of days but never lets this stop him from supporting Roundabout’s work.

We are very grateful to Mark and all our trustees past and present for being part of the Roundabout family.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Britain’s charities facing skills gaps on their trustee boards, by Ian Joseph, CEO, Trustees Unlimited

With governance becoming an increasingly important issue for UK charities, the contribution that trustees make and the skills needed to be an effective trustee is more important than ever.

To mark Trustees Week, we wanted to discover how board performance is being measured and what trustees are doing to enhance their organisation’s performance.

We surveyed our database of 2,000 trustees and had some interesting findings to share.
Strikingly, 47% of trustees said they recognise skills gaps on their boards and 46% say their charity doesn’t appraise the performance of board members. The skills gaps highlighted were legal, HR and fundraising as well as social media and marketing and communications.

Less than half (44%) said their charity undertakes board member appraisals every year, 10% have appraisals every two years and 46% are never appraised. Over a third said their Chair isn’t appraised either. Whilst over half of trustee said their terms of office were three to five years, almost a third of admitted there were no fixed terms of office for trustees.
Despite recognising skills gaps charities are recruiting new trustees by word of mouth (16%) and mainly through their own networks (42%). Around a third use recruitment agencies or job boards and only 8% advertise vacancies.

On the one hand it is commendable that almost 50% of organisations recognise where they have skills gaps, however, it’s extraordinary that almost half of trustees are unaware of the skills they are lacking. It is also worrying to see that the approach to appraising board performance is so variable when governance is more important than ever.
A lack of diverse skills on a board is a huge risk. By relying on word of mouth or using their own networks to recruit trustees, charities are really limiting their talent pool. Having no fixed terms for trustees also prevents talent coming through.

There is a wealth of talented people out there who would be interested in becoming a trustee. However, charities must be more innovative to reach them - using social media channels and other recruitment methods to attract them. If they don’t, they will get left behind and the skills gaps will widen.
According to trustees, the top skills needed around the boardroom table are leadership, finance and chairing skills. The most desirable characteristic of a good trustee is contributing to the organisation’s performance (32%), next important is strategic thinking and thirdly being passionate about the cause.

Half of trustee said they saw that their colleagues possessed these qualities, 40% said they saw these qualities most of the time and one in ten said they did not see these characteristics in their co-trustees.
They also noted some unusual styles of behaviour. Whilst over 70% recognised the ‘Helpful Person’ who always offers their time and input, nearly 46% recognised the ‘Obsessive’ who pays too much attention to the small details and 36% the ‘Parsley on the Fish’ a board member that looks good, but doesn’t do much.

There are also many ‘Colonels’ sat on Britain’s boards, trustees who are excellent at giving direction and opinions, but not so good at action, and almost a quarter of respondents said they recognised the ‘Gong Hunter’, someone who is only looking for glory.
To be a good trustee takes many skills but also a firm commitment to the role and the charity cause. It is the responsibility of the Chair to bring out the best in trustees – using their skills in the right way, ensuring that meetings are run effectively and that everyone makes a valuable contribution at each meeting.

There is no room for Colonels and Gong Hunters on charity boards, especially given charities are under ever increasing scrutiny from the public and from their regulators. Having trustees not up to the job is simply unacceptable.

 

How to Write a Trustee Cover Letter

To celebrate Trustees' Week, Bilwa Iyer in the TrusteeWorks team at Reach talks us through how to write a cover letter for a trustee position.

Have you recently applied to a trustee position but struggled to write a cover letter? Do you often feel that you don’t know where to start or have even questioned the importance of one? You are not alone! As a trustee recruiter, I receive emails and calls from applicants asking me these questions from aspiring and seasoned trustees alike.

Is a cover letter important? My response to this is a very strong yes! Charities have different causes and organisations want to ensure their cause is championed by the most effective and passionate people. Hence a cover letter is the first step in displaying that you are this person!  Clients advertising trustee positions are looking to receive cover letters along with CVs, which tend to give a sketch of your work history, whereas a cover letter helps you showcase your personality and contribution as a trustee.
What you need to remember when writing a trustee cover letter
To begin with, it may be useful to know that trustee cover letters are slightly different from professional ones in their format and tone. Trustee cover letters are simple, have flexible formats and are content focused. They tend to be less business-like and more personable. The other important thing to remember is that leaving out a cover letter in a trustee application process is not an option!
Writing such cover letters may seem daunting at first however with little exploration this can be easily accomplished. These letters basically ask for three key elements:
  1. Your reasons for being drawn to a cause
  2. How you can contribute to the cause as a trustee
  3. Your fit and alignment with the organisation
Here’s how to draft a cover letter that will have an impact.
(a) Show your commitment and passion.
Once you have selected a charity with a trustee position you want to apply for, you must show your reasons for wanting to get involved, demonstrating your passion for the cause and your commitment to get involved - and perhaps more importantly, stay involved! Therefore begin your application by getting to the heart of your charity and knowing what sort of organisation it is and how it runs. A charity’s website is a good place to start any research. Sometimes trustee job descriptions won’t tell you enough to get started, so I’d encourage you to seek help from your contacts or brokering agencies such as Reach to help you gain access to clients, annual reports or answer any initial questions you may have.
Example 1: This example highlights how personal experiences can be aligned to charitable objectives and professional expertise. It highlights how one’s life experience can turn into a passion for a cause and an organisation and also demonstrates why the individual wants to get involved:
I have pleasure in attaching my CV to apply as a Trustee for Campaigning and Advocacy for XX charity.
I have followed your organisation and admired your work for several years now. I was motivated to apply for this trustee role having been diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy where I was severely hospitalised. Following this experience I realised how much more awareness was needed amongst the general public and what to watch out for. I would therefore love to apply my skills, expertise and passion towards your organisation and helping to steer it towards even greater success.
I served for six years as a trustee for a national charity which I found extremely rewarding notably in extending their membership base. I am committed to ensuring that I give the best I can to any organisation I get involved with. I believe I am well-suited to the role as I have significant experience of national campaigning to a target audience, including the execution of multi-channel marketing campaigns.
A charity wants to know that any trustee who joins them will be a valuable asset, and who will be able to give their time, commitment and passion. So if you can show this, you will be in a strong position.
(b) Showcase your experience and skills
Clients are looking for candidates who can demonstrate their contribution as trustees. You need to highlight your professional skills and expertise and show what you will bring to the board. A trustee board should ideally have a mix of different skills, mindsets and experience to show diversity and ensure balance.  So you need to show in your cover letter what skills you have.  When attempting to write down your contribution as a trustee, tailor your letter around the job and person specification.

Example 2 – This is an example of a thorough cover letter which provides a holistic and clear overview of all their skills:
I believe myself to be competent in this area and can offer the very specific skills and experience you are looking for:
·         Audit, Finance & Risk Management – I am a member of the Governance & Audit Committees at XX and I have contributed to the Board’s consideration of Governance arrangements by …
·         High Level Financial Competence – I am a qualified accountant with a broad base of finance skills but also have the experience to take a lead role in XX.
I can demonstrate a commitment to the role and can give the can meet the time commitment to read all papers, prepare for, attend and contribute to meetings in line with the work of the finance and audit committee. I can also undertake to attend training and development and engage pro-actively in the induction process.
·         I can analyse complex information and reach sensible conclusions by demonstrating the ability to communicate effectively with a diverse range of people in a constructive manner.
·         I can work with others effectively and believe teamwork enhances overall performance and can lead to better decisions and services.
In terms of personal qualities:

·         I am able to demonstrate a sharing to the values including that of probity in public life and can also demonstrate a commitment to your charity’s cultural elements ...
·         I have a ‘duty of care’ ethos which is at the heart of everything I do and I believe investing in a diverse workforce enables better performance and a more inclusive customer service.
This is an example of a clear cover letter which shows instantly how it aligns to the needs of the organisation. As with job applications, trustee positions can get a number of applicants so make sure you stand out!

(c) Explain why you would be a good fit in the organisation

Clients are looking for people who can fit into their culture. Make use of relevant and transferable abilities and personal experiences. This is where any personal research you have done and any preliminary client conversations you have had will make you stand out.  Trustee vacancies are aligned to charity objectives and you may find as you write about your professional experience that it doesn’t quite fit the job description…don’t worry though! Make your cover letter unique by highlighting your transferable skills from your workplace along with your personal experiences, to show what you would bring to the role.
Example 3 – Here’s an example of a cover letter that showcases skills acquired in the commercial sector tailored to the third sector:
I am currently looking for an opportunity to use my expertise to support a not-for-profit organisation, as for the first time in my business life I am able to commit the time necessary to offer my skills as a trustee in an environment where I can bring real value to a board.
I was drawn to XX opportunity, as a stated role requirement was the ‘evaluation of complex information, assisting to build consensus and robust governance within the board group’ – which dovetails well with my skills gained over many years in the analysis of complex (often financial) information required in the acquisition, restructuring and improving of operations I have undertaken in many differing arenas.
I have been a Director for many years and have experience in both SME and large international PLC operations. I feel that one of my key strengths which I could bring to the trustee board is in negotiation, having spent my entire working life in a commercial environment, negotiating with contractors and suppliers. I am particularly looking for a role where I can bring relevant experience to the table to strengthen the skills base of the existing board.
A charity needs to have people who fit into their organisation whilst at the same time challenging them to reach their full potential. So try to describe how you will fit in as well as how you can contribute as a trustee.
I believe that even the most distinguished CVs need cover letters for trustee vacancies. The above examples of cover letters are in no way exhaustive however, they show effective ways to highlight your relevant skills, passion and experience that any charity would need. Remember the three key elements and steps for trustee applications to guide you and you should craft a cover letter that 'wows'.
I am happy to review any cover letters you are looking to send, so please contact me at Reach. As a trustee recruiter with Reach Volunteering I’m committed to help you find a role that fits you.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Take a short Trustee survey from Ecclesiastical

Ecclesiastical have been supporting Trustees' Week 2014 in a number of ways, including contributing a series of blogs to the site. They have also launched a short Trustee survey - please take a moment to fill it in. It only takes 5 minutes!

TAKE THE SURVEY HERE.

Prospectus launch Governance Awards Survey

The City livery company The Clothworkers’ Company is committed to assist in the development of good governance. They have been talking to their partners, Prospectus, NPC and Reach about how we can all work to “raise the bar of governance.” Their programme has been productive and successful.

We are interested in how we can continue to promote good governance via recognition, with the anchor being an awards event. There are many awards over the year recognising achievements. We are keen to acknowledge great governance and to uncover great examples to act as a beacon for others.
 
Before embarking on this initiative, we would like to establish from people directly involved in the sector whether the concept is valid and sustainable. We anticipate 6 – 8 categories, with awards presented at a free-to-attend event at Clothworkers’ Hall. We would not be selling tables.

We would very much appreciate your support to ensure it is fit for purpose and hope you would be able to spare 5 minutes to ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS!
 

Monday, 10 November 2014

Top Trustee FAQs - by Martyn Turner, Charity Underwriting Director, Ecclesiastical Insurance

To summarise our previous two blogs ‘What is Trustee Indemnity Insurance’ and ‘Responsibilities of a charity trustee’  we have listed our top frequently asked questions. If you have any further questions why not talk to somebody directly? Ecclesiastical will be taking over our @knowhownonprof twitter account on Tuesday 11 November between 1.30-3pm.  A charity insurance professional will be on hand to answer any of your questions – so please do pop the date in your diary.

1.     Who is included in the term charity trustee?
The term charity trustee can be used to describe a number of people. Quite often they go by a number of titles including, directors, board members, governors or committee members. Trustees are ultimately people who serve on the governing body of a charity.

2.     What is a trustee ultimately responsible for?
Trustees have and ultimate responsibility for the affairs of the charity. They have three main areas of responsibilities to ensure;

·         It remains solvent – as a trustee it is your duty to make sure the charity remains in a good financial position. The charitable funds and assets must be used sensibly.

·         The charity is well run – it is ultimately the trustees’ role to ensure the charity remains compliant with the law. A good trustee needs to understand the charity market, its obligations to the Charity Commission and it helps to have a good head for annual reports and accounts.

·         It delivers its charitable objectives – a trustee must act with integrity to deliver everything in accordance to their charitable goals. 

3.     Can trustees delegate their responsibilities?
Trustees can generally delegate certain powers to agents or employees, but will and must always retain the ultimate responsibility for running the charity.

4.     Can a trustee resign?
Yes – it is usually straightforward for a trustee to resign. But in some situations, especially with unincorporated charities, it is important to check the charity’s governing document carefully. Sometimes legal advice will be needed to ensure that things are done properly.

5.     Why should you consider Trustee Indemnity Insurance?
As a trustee you have some protection under the Company and Charities Acts’ and possibly via your charity’s own constitution, however, this may not always be enough. By having Trustees Indemnity Insurance in place it will protect you against a financial loss, should an allegation be made against you and or your charity for any wrongdoing whilst holding your position as a trustee. In essence Trustee Indemnity Insurance provides you with a financial safety net should something happen.

Don’t understand or need more info?

Ecclesiastical have produced a trustee hub giving you lots more information and help with Trustee Indemnity Insurance. Support comes in the form of up to date blog posts, articles and videos on the topic.

Download your Board Skills Audit here, from Prospectus!

Prospectus, a recruitment consultancy and recruitment advertising and design agency working exclusively with the beyond profit sector, have launched a Board Skills Audit document for charities to download, for Trustees' Week.

To be a Trustee of an organisation is an exciting and fulfilling role. The most effective Boards are ones which benefit from individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds, experiences and skill sets.

However, for many charities finding and recruiting the right people for Board positions is a significant challenge. This Board Skills Audit has been produced by Prospectus to help guide and inform organisations in implementing good governance and are provided as a part of wider set of documents which include model job descriptions and person specifications.

You can find all these documents to DOWNLOAD FOR FREE HERE.


Thursday, 6 November 2014

Trusteeship free seminar onboard MV Balmoral on 25 November from 6.30pm to 7.30pm

We’re hosting a free event onboard MV Balmoral in Bristol encouraging people to take up trusteeships as part of their personal and professional development. There are some great speakers also lined up. Please visit our website here 

Date and Time: Tuesday 25th November at 6:30pm -7:30pm
 
The seminar will highlight to members of the local business community what they could gain from sitting on a charity board. It will give an insight into what it is like to join a charity as a trustee and how it fits in perfectly with career development and personal goals.

Places are strictly limited and can be booked here 

For more information or event queries, please call Sarah Holder on 07952 894 573 or email info@gettingonboard.org

Trustees and Good Governance Conference on Tuesday November 25 at the Bowburn Community Centre in Durham

Durham Community Action in partnership with Skillshare North East Ltd have organised a Trustees and Good Governance Conference.

Date and Time: Tuesday 25 th November 25, 2014

Event: Trustees and Good Governance Conference from 10am to 3.30pm at Bowburn Community Centre

The conference is aimed at charity trustees who would like to update their knowledge on the Charity Commission, their duties and responsibilities, good governance in funding, finance, employment and volunteering, and licensing regulations. We have organised the conference to coincide with Trustees Week which also takes place in November.

Book your place here
For more information please email helen.brown@durhamrcc.org.uk

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Listen now to Alex Swallow's guide on becoming a Young Trustee

Alex Swallow, Founder of Young Charity Trustees, has made a podcast for Trustees' Week, which includes tips on how young people can become trustees and his own trustee journey.
 

 

Two free Trustee events in Camden, from Camden VAC; London 10th and 24th November

To celebrate Trustees’ Week, Camden VAC will be hosting two short, free evening events specially for trustees:

Dates: Monday 10th November for 'Constitutions: The Importance of Knowing and Following Yours to Protect Your Organisation' from 6pm - 7.30pm

Monday 24th November from 6pm to 7.30pm 'Warning Signs' Round table discussion

 
This event will look at the importance of understanding and, if necessary, updating your constitution to avoid problems and conflicts.  Shivaji will use case studies and recent examples to highlight common pitfalls including, membership criteria, electing the committee, what your constitution says about running your AGM and the changing approach of the Charity Commission.
 
The presenter is governance expert Shivaji Shiva of Anthony Collins Solicitors.
 
This event is delivered in partnership with Camden Council, Communities & Third Sector Team.

This will be followed up two weeks later with a round table discussion on ‘Warning Signs’ on Monday 24th November from 6.00 to 7.30pm looking at the warning signs that give you clues that something is going wrong (or about to go wrong) in your organisation. We will be looking at all of the subtle (and not so subtle) signs that indicate that there is trouble ahead. 

From a lack of information at meetings, incomplete information, missing key staff, audit problems and many other signs that problems are brewing.  Please come and share your own thoughts and experiences and the warning signs that you have experienced.

Further information and the application form are available at:
www.vac.org.uk/events etc
Contact Kevin Nunan
knunan@vac.org.uk if you have any questions.

Am I Disqualified from Acting as a Trustee? - by Sandy Mansfield, First Contact team at the Charity Commission

Sandy Mansfield, from the First Contact team at the Charity Commission, describes how charity trustees, old and new, need to ask themselves this very important question:

‘Am I disqualified from acting as a trustee?’

By giving your time, energy and commitment as the trustee of a charitable cause, you are making a vital contribution to society, and hopefully you find it personally rewarding. But despite very good intensions many people are unaware that they may be acting illegally. Some people are disqualified by the Charities Act from acting as trustees. You are disqualified if you:

  • have been convicted of an offence involving deception or dishonesty, and the conviction is unspent;
  • are bankrupt, and have not been discharged;
  • have been removed from trusteeship of a charity by the Court or the Commission for misconduct or mismanagement;
  • have been disqualified as a company director;
  • have entered into a composition or arrangement with your creditors, including an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA), and are currently on the Insolvency Service Register.
In most cases you are committing an offence if you act as a trustee while disqualified. The Commission can grant a waiver under the Charities Act if there are good reasons in the interests of the charity for allowing a disqualified person to be a trustee. You can find out more from our staff guidance OG41 and OG42 on our website.

Before appointing someone as a trustee, the trustee board should obtain a declaration from them that they are not disqualified.

In addition, we strongly recommend that charities working with children or vulnerable adults, with positions which are eligible to obtain DBS checks should do so.

You can use our model declaration form both for prospective trustees and existing trustees (as their circumstances may have changed).

The charity should also consult official registers of disqualified persons.
These include:

(1) The Individual Insolvency Register maintained by the Insolvency Service, which contains details of:

·         bankruptcies that are either current or have ended in the last three months;

·         current individual voluntary arrangements and fast track voluntary  arrangements; and

·         current bankruptcy restriction orders and undertakings.

You can search the register on the Insolvency Service website, by visiting your local Official Receiver’s office, or by post or fax.

(2) The register of disqualified directors maintained by Companies House. You can search this register on the Companies House website.

(3) The Commission’s register of all persons who have been removed as a charity trustee either by us or by the High Court since 1 January 1993. You can search this register online.

If you are disqualified, it means you can’t act, but you are not automatically removed. If you do participate in running the charity, you are committing an offence. Decisions that you take part in may be invalid. You remain responsible for the charity. You should formally resign to avoid this situation.

If you or your fellow trustees don’t take these steps we are likely to find out. We use several ways to monitor whether or not charities are checking the eligibility of their trustees. Currently we are aware of up to a thousand trustees who may be disqualified but have not resigned, and we are in the process of contacting them.

If a charity fails to take reasonable steps to ensure that its trustees are eligible to act, all of the trustees will share responsibility for any financial loss or reputational damage that happens as a result.

If you know that you are acting as a trustee when you are disqualified take action now, resign your position and ensure the charity updates the trustee details HERE.