Chris Sissons

Community Project Development Support

Quote of the month

September 2013

I'm working on a replacement for this site. Follow my progress at Community Web Design. This is an experimental site, watch out for the launch of the finished site in the near future. 

Chris Sissons

Ask Chris

1 January 2013

  • Why do we evaluate projects?
  • Do we need to collect evidence?
  • How do we collect it?
  • For whom?
  • When?
  • What do we do with it?
  • Will pictures of the event suffice?
  • Who should be involved?
  • How long should it take?
  • Examples of doing evaluations
  • Examples of bad practice
  • Examples of good practice
  • What would be the needs of the funders?
  • How long do we keep it?
  • Will it just gather dust on the shelf?

Charlie, W Yorkshire

Go to Ask Chris for my answer.

Responsibilities of Charity Trustees

People and question markIt is a common misapprehension amongst community and church groups that the Trustees of a registered charity are 'only interested in the charity's assets'.

Recent changes to charity legislation mean Trustees have had a higher profile than in the past. However, this topic is relevant for any small registered charity and is, I would argue, best practice for committee members of unregistered charities and unincorporated associations as well as directors of small companies. Please remember this article reflects my opinion and you should check with the Charity Commission's website or other relevant sources of information to familiarise yourself with the legislation before taking action.

OK, so reference to the Charity Commission's website will show you Trustees are indeed responsible for the charity's assets but also for its objects and its reputation.

Naturally, the Charity Commission focuses on the charity's assets because they are important. The Trustee must safeguard them and ensure they are used to further the charity's objects. Trustees must remember they are acting publicly. In other words, the performance of the charity is reported to the Charity Commission annually and so it is transparent to the public.

But the responsibilities of the Trustees do not end with their charity's assets. They are also responsible for its objects. A moment's reflection and it is not hard to imagine circumstances where every penny might be accounted for and yet the assets are not devoted to the charity's objects. It is easy for charities, especially small ones, to lose sight of their aims. Sometimes the Trustees may need to remind the membership of the charity's objects and challenge them to think again about what they are doing. Responsibility for the objects is a radical call to remembering why the charity exists in the first place. By all means charities should remain legal but they are at their best when pushing hard on the boundaries of what is possible.

And the charity's reputation is also important. A recent example of this is where the Trustees of Jimmy Savile's charity were in the news. Should they change the name of their charity following their patron's bad publicity? It is certainly their responsibility to consider this question in order to safeguard both the assets and the objects of the charity. For a local charity its good name can be crucial. Once rumours start, it can be very difficult to persuade people the charity has taken on board their concerns.

So, the role of charity Trustees is more challenging and wide-ranging than simply accounting for the money!