People and Charities
Charities are continually faced with rising costs and increased burden from compliance with the law, particularly the smaller charities. There is huge responsibility placed on the trustees to ensure the charity complies with the law and for them to make the best decisions in the interest for the charity and the public.
It is essential the Board of trustees has the right people and skills, to support and challenge the management team. The board can be strengthened by giving trustees specific roles. A clear role description will help them understand their duties. Key roles include the chair of trustees and the charity treasurer. http://www.governancepages.org.uk/sample-documents/jobrole-descriptions/job-description-for-a-chair/ gives examples for guidance.
Sub committees may be used to tackle a specific project. Clear terms of reference and monitoring systems should be set out to help the members of the team to understand their objective.
A skill audit can help to give a clear picture of its strengths and weaknesses. This is a good opportunity to bring in new ideas and ways of reaching your beneficiaries, keep pace with developments; and new ideas and contacts to help with fundraising.
There are various ways to fill the gaps in skills or experience; by building on the skills of the existing trustees, working and sharing expertise with other charities, especially for the smaller charities or by recruiting new trustees to meet the specific skill gap.
We, accountants are often asked to help with the Board of trustees as a trustee or to support the Chief Executive and their management team. The charity however needs to be aware of the rules for conflict of interests and payments to trustees. Charity Commission website has helpful guidance on this matter.
The responsibility of governing the charity is shared. The finance responsibility does not lie solely with the charity treasurer but is the responsibility of all the trustees. With the right people and skills, the responsibility does not have to be a burden.