Friday, 26 July 2013

Essential reading for trustees: 'It's Your Decision', from the Charity Commission

The Charity Commission has issued new guidance on decision making for charity trustees. The guidance, It's Your Decision, explains the key principles of decision making that the courts and the Commission expect trustees to apply when they are making significant or strategic decisions about their charity.

The principles deal with the important things that trustees need to get right, such as ensuring they have the relevant powers to carry out their plans, managing conflicts of interest, and making informed decisions based only on relevant considerations.
Following these principles will help to protect trustees if something goes wrong. Some decisions don't work out as the trustees intended, but if the trustees can show that they have applied and followed the principles in making their decision, it's unlikely that the courts or the Commission will hold them personally responsible to the charity for what went wrong.
The guidance also covers practicalities - making sure meetings are properly conducted, recording decisions accurately, and what to do if trustees disagree.

Why is the Charity Commission publishing this?

Charities are independent, and their trustees are responsible for governing them and making decisions about how they should be run. The Commission, and the public, expect trustees to make the best decisions they can for their charity.
The guidance aims to help increase trustees' confidence when making decisions, and inform their processes. It outlines a trustee's role and responsibilities and what good decision making looks like; areas of knowledge that will help trustees be accountable to people with an interest in their charity.

Trustees can get advice or guidance to inform their decisions from a range of sources, including the Commission's website. They should feel confident about following the guidance and applying it to their situation; there are only a few instances when trustees need to get specific advice or permission from the Commission, which the guidance outlines.

What have people said about it so far?

The Commission published the guidance as a draft earlier this year to give people the opportunity to comment on it. The feedback was extremely positive, with the vast majority of people who commented, including several representatives of smaller charities, declaring it helpful and reassuring.

Anna Lewis, Legal Services Officer at Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA), commented:
"The guidance is easy to read and stresses the importance of making good decisions as part of a trustee's duties without appearing too frightening."

Neal Green, Senior Policy Advisor at the Charity Commission, commented:
"We are very pleased with the feedback we have received from charities so far. This gives us confidence that the guidance will help trustees and make a difference in what is one of the most important aspects of their role. We have taken on board what charities said, so hopefully they will find the updated guidance even easier to use."

See a summary of the guidance at: www.charitycommission.gov.uk/trustees-staff-and-volunteers/trustee-board/making-decisions/

See the full guidance at: www.charitycommission.gov.uk/detailed-guidance/trustees-staff-and-volunteers/its-your-decision-charity-trustees-and-decision-making/

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