The roles & responsibilities of charity trustees are defined by the Charities Act.
They are therefore a legal obligation on ALL charity trustees regardless of the size (ie: annual income) of their charity.

In many small charities the Trustees also do much of the day-to-day administration and management of their charity.
But even where Trustees are able to delegate some of the day-to-day management to volunteers or paid staff, the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the charity uses it resources (financial, material & human) efficiently and effectively to deliver its charitable objects in compliance with the Charities Act remains with the Trustees.

In the commercial sector, the roles & responsibilities of company directors may vary according to their position and professional qualifications.
But in most charities all the trustees have collective responsibility for ensuring that their charity is run in accordance with its governing document and the Charities Act.   Some trustees will have delegated responsibilities - eg: the Chair for ensuring that meetings are properly convened and managed;  or the Treasurer for ensuring that the charity's finances are properly recorded and reported.   But that does NOT mean that they can make decisions which the Trustees as a whole do not agree with.   Nor can trustees excuse themselves from responsibility if, say, the Chair or Treasurer were to do something which was contrary to the Charities Act or, in the opinion of the Trustees as a whole, not in the best interests of their charity.

Some of the leaflets below deal with specific aspects of running a small charity for which one Trustee is identified as "taking the lead".   But ALL Trustees should be aware of what is involved so that they can collectively monitor that those aspects are being managed properly.   AND they should not hide from calling the lead person to account, or over-ruling their unilateral decisions, if they feel that the charity is not being managed properly.

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The Roles & Responsibilities of Charity Trustees

TrusteeResponsibilitiesThe Responsibilities & Roles of ALL Trustees [▼]
Typical Responsibilities & Roles of the Chair [▼]   {Including managing meetings}
Typical Responsibilities & Roles of the Treasurer [▼]
Payments to Trustees and Connected Persons [▼]

Accounts ALL Charities MUST Keep [▼] 
A brief overview of what is required by the Charities Act
For more detailed information on managing your charity's finances go to the "Managing the Money Made Easy" webpage [►].

Outputs & Outcomes [▼]
Demonstrating the charity's delivery of value-for-money chairable benefits

Keeping Minutes [▼]
Trustees are required to keep proper records of BOTH the decisions that they make AND the justifications for making those decisions.
{A recent report from the Charity Commission [►] illustrates the importance (and value) of ensuring that important decisions, and the justifications for taking them, are always fully recorded in the charity's minutes of meetings.}

Preparing the Trustees' Annual Report & Accounts
ALL charities, regardless of their size MUST prepare Trustees Annual Reports & Accounts (Financial Statements) and make them available to the public on reasonal request WHETHER OR NOT they are required to submit them automatically (ie: without being requested) to the Charity Commission.
   Preparing the Trustees' Annual Report [▼]
An editable (Doc) template [▼]

   Preparing the Annual Accounts [▼]
         For information on preparing your charity's Annual Accounts go to the "Managing the Money Made Easy" webpage [►].

Choosing an Independent Examiner or Financial Advisor
Not all professional/qualified accountants have the required knowledge and understanding of charity accounting practices.   This leaflet [▼] provides guidance on how to find the right person.

Planning an Effective Programme of Activities
A separate web-page [►] on Programme Planning where there is:
an introduction to Programme Planning;
a basic, editable Programme Plan Template;
and a basic editable spreadsheet for listing and monitoring the individual projects and tasks in the charity's programme.


BankWorksheetManaging the Money Made Easy

The "Managing the Money Made Easy" web-page [►] contains detailed guidance on how the typical non-accountant volunteer trustees of small charities can prepare and manage their charity's finances in accordance with Charity Commission requirements WITHOUT having to use complicated accounts procedures and professional accountants or financial advisors.
The web-page also includes an example "open-source" spreadsheet for managing the accounts of a typical small charity which you can adapt to suit your charity's own particular needs - AND detailed instructions on how to adapt and use the spreadsheet.

Accounting Issues Facing Small Charities [▼]
This is not a standard Small Charity Support guidance leaflet but a PDF of the slides and accompanying speaker-notes for a webinar on the topic given by the Principal Trustee on 22-June-22 at the invitation of the Association of Charity Independent Examiners.
The webinar demonstrated how the typical non-accountant trustees can avoid common accounting issues.


ScrollExample Policies & Procedures for Small Charities

This website has a separate page [►] where you can find a range of downloadable/editable example policies & procedures which you can adapt to your charity's own requirements.



Trustees should also be aware of:

CC3 The Essential Trustee: what you need to know, what you need to do [►]
   {A link to the Charity Commission's guidance, updated in May 2018}


The Charity Commission's "5-Minute Guides for Trustees"
In October 2022 the Charity Commission updated its "quick"
guides [►] to cover seven key aspects of charity management.   The "quick guides" are a ‘core syllabus’ covering the basics that the regulator expects all trustees to be aware of.

They explain the basics of:

  • Delivering purpose - the rules you must follow to govern your charity
  • Managing finances - making sure that your charity's money is safe, properly used and accounted for
  • Conflicts of interest - identifying and dealing with conflicts of interest in your charity
  • Making decisions - making valid trustees decisions that are in your charity's best interests
  • Reporting information - what your charity must send to the Commission and what services to use to help you get things right
  • Safeguarding People - your responsibilities to keep everyone who comes into contact with your charity safe from harm: this includes volunteers, staff and beneficiaries
  • Political Campaigning - The rules for charities that want to support, or oppose, a change in government policy or the law.

This ‘gateway’ level guidance will make it easier and quicker for all trustees to check what is expected and to find more detailed information if needed.

Lessons Learned
The Charity Commission's report [►] of the lessons learned from the collapse of Kids Company in 2015 (report published in 2022}



Updated:  31-Dec-22