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Regulator urges charities to support trustee development

08 November 2013

The Charity Commission has begun urging charities to offer training and support to their trustees.

According to survey research by the Commission, a third of charity register applicants claimed their organisation did not offer training and support to trustees. By contrast, just under two thirds (63%) did offer this to some extent.


The Commission stated its belief that trustees are the people with ultimate responsibility for directing the business of their charity and therefore, it is important they are provided with resources, support and training to help them run their charities effectively. This has the dual benefit of improving the governance of their organisations, and providing the individual with skills and experience valuable to their professional development. 


As part of the survey, charity register applicants were asked to select a statement that most accurately summed up the role of the trustees in their organisation. Just over half (51%) felt that the role of their trustees was primarily strategic. 


Trustees' responsibilities often fall above that of the individual's day-to-day employment, offering the individual a chance to play a key role in the strategic decisions and management of a charity, according to the Commission, adding that it feels it is important that board members are provided with resources and support to help them carry out these responsibilities. 


Respondents were asked, as far as they were aware, which source of support their trustees had used to help them fulfil their responsibilities. 44% selected the Charity Commission, with 'another charity working in a similar field' close behind at 41%. Over a quarter of respondents (29%) said trustees had accessed legal expertise. 


Sam Younger, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, said: ‘It's really important that trustees receive regular training to enable them to continually build on their knowledge and run their organisations effectively, and in accordance with charity law. Poor governance is sadly something we see regularly in charities, as a result of trustees failing to understand their duties; concerns about poor governance or poor trusteeship featured in 597 of our 1,374 assessment cases in 2011-12’.


He added that he would ‘ encourage Chairs to regularly assess skills gaps in their boards and identify what their trustees need training on - from managing conflicts of interest to decision making, there's a huge amount of support out there from both the Commission and the wider sector’.

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