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February 3rd, 2016ArticlesGeoffrey Hand 0 Comments

Charity Governance ConsultancyWith charity governance so much in the news, yellow cards may soon not just be for footballers.

On the football field, the yellow card is the sign of an Official Caution.

In  upcoming changes to charity law, charity trustees may be at risk of finding themselves booked by the Charity Commission.

New Powers

It’s all down to the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill currently going through Parliament.

The Charity Commission is set to have new powers to issue Official Warnings to a charity and a charity trustee, where it considers there has been a breach of trust, a breach of duty, misconduct or mismanagement.

Name and shame

On top of this, charities and their trustees may end up with their names in lights – for all the wrong reasons.

The Charity Commission is to be able to publish an Official Warning it has issued “in any way it considers appropriate”, including the local press and online local media.

Not good news for anyone’s reputation and a big turn-off for funders and volunteers – the life-blood of most charities.

Some safeguards, but….

Before issuing an Official Warning, the Charity Commission must first give notice and take any objections into account.

But in these cash-strapped times for the Charity Commission, it may be that they will err on the side of caution in protecting the public interest – and there is no right of appeal.

All this is not yet law, but I think we can be confident that measures like this are on their way.

The Six Essential Trustee Duties

But to avoid any danger of a yellow card, be sure to follow the are six essential trustee duties:

  • Ensure your charity is carrying out its purposes for the public benefit
  • Comply with your charity’s governing document and the law
  • Act in your charity’s best interests
  • Manage your charity’s resources responsibly
  • Act with reasonable care and skill
  • Ensure your charity is accountable

If you understand your obligations thoroughly, and carry them out diligently, all should be well for you and for your charity.

For some elements, this is straightforward.  For others, it’s often less obvious how to meet the required standards, and how to know whether your charity is meeting them.

Take the charity governance quiz to see how your charity scores.

And talk to me about some trustee governance training and I will be happy to help you avoid the mortification of a yellow card…

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Geoffrey Hand

Geoffrey Hand is a charity governance consultant, offering governance consultancy and training. He also provides legal services management, helping charities get better value for money from their lawyers. Geoffrey has extensive experience in the charity and legal worlds, and his mission is to help charities deliver good governance.

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