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What does a charity trustee do?

A Trustee is a vital, voluntary role for charities. As a Trustee, you are legally responsible for the charity you govern. In its simplest term, your role is to ensure that your charity is operating to deliver its purpose according to what is set out in the governing document.

The trustee’s role is key in ensuring that the best interests of beneficiaries are considered, charity finances are overseen, that strategic planning is in place and that the law is followed by everyone within the organisation.

As a Trustee, you would join a board of Trustees (or you may hear it referred to as a board of Directors), and the ideal Trustee board is made up of individuals with different skills, and different backgrounds to bring a variety of experiences to the organisation you’re governing.

By having a diverse board you not only ensure that different skill sets are covered when reviewing strategies – but it also means you open up your charity to wider discussions, different ideas for sustainable growth, and problem-solving; by having someone with lived experience you’ll hear different viewpoints on how the issues you’re tackling could be solved. By opening up your community with a diverse board you’ll also gain different connections – and overall create a much more sustainable, open-minded way of progressing your charity, and tackling the issues you face to further help your beneficiaries.

Why be a Trustee?

You’re at the driving seat of change in society by becoming a Trustee, and your purpose is to ensure that your charity is delivering its mission. By giving your time you are directly helping to create a better life for your beneficiaries, and you’ll hear just how you’re doing that. Not only that but you’ll also develop your leadership skills and expertise, and meet people from all walks of life.

Would you become a Trustee?

If it’s something you’re interested in it’s worth considering:

  • What type of organisation would you like to be a part of? Is there anything that aligns with your personal values?
  • How much time can you give to an organisation?
  • What areas of expertise, skills, and knowledge could you bring to a board?

What happens if you no longer want to be a Trustee, or you as a board member need to end someone’s term as a Trustee?

Sometimes things don’t work out for many reasons. It could be that your priorities change and you need to step down for personal reasons (families, work, life happens and that’s ok!), it could be that the organisation doesn’t align with your personal values and you want to take a step back, or it could be that you’ve given it a go and it’s not for you. All of these are perfectly valid reasons and it’s ok if you need to step away.

Steps to take:

1. We’re all human, talk to your chair

  • Have a conversation about resigning – you’ll feel much better once you’ve spoken to someone

2. Submit a letter of resignation

  • This is a letter of resignation similar to that if you are resigning from a job; things you might want to include are:
  • The role you’re stepping down from (i.e. Chair, Treasurer)
  • Your reason for leaving (this will help the organisation see if there is a problem within it for example)
  • The end date of your role and the last meeting you will attend
  • Any further details you feel need to be submitted

3. Be aware they may be rules to your resignation

  • The governing document of your organisation may have certain terms you have to uphold (for example a set notice period, non-disclosure agreements, to provide handover information etc – again not dissimilar to if you were resigning from paid employment)
  • These should have been made aware to you in your induction process so these terms should not be a surprise to you

What if you need to remove a Trustee from a board?

Sometimes things don’t work out and you may need to take steps to remove a Trustee from a board in the best interests of your organisation.

Your first port of call should always be your charity governing document to see if there is a procedure for removing a trustee set out – if there is you must follow this procedure, and organisations like ourselves can help you ensure you are doing this in a compliant way.

If there is no procedure set out in your charity governing document, then unfortunately this may not be a set and ready matter. The Trustee Act is a legal act that may allow you to replace a trustee  – if you are going down this route we would always suggest seeking legal advice and at Bhayani HR & Employment Law we can recommend the best experts to help you navigate this.

It’s worth noting here that if your organisation is a company, then providing you follow the correct guidelines and procedures you do have the right to remove a director (please however even if you are a registered company please don’t do this without seeking legal advice).

All in all, removing a trustee may not be a straightforward process so we would fully recommend you get in touch with legal experts, and as we mentioned we can put you in touch with the best experts regarding Trustee and Charity Law.

Contact us today at 0333 888 1360 or email [email protected]

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