Following Ian Burman’s presentation on the new Charities (Protection & Social Investment) Act 2016 at the More London Charity Forum’s inaugural event in March 2016, we thought you would be interested to know that the government has now published a provisional timetable explaining when the different sections of the new Charities Act will take effect.
Some of you may have read the Court of Appeal’s recent decision in Regina (Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Great Britain and Others) v Charity Commission which found that a charity was entitled to challenge the lawfulness of a production order made under section 52 Charities Act 211, by way of judicial review.
Many of you will have read about how the environmental charity, Friends of the Earth avoided restrictions on political activity by using a non-charitable company called Friends of the Earth Limited to carry out its anti-fracking campaign.
With over 1,000,000 trustee positions in England & Wales and estimates suggesting that almost half of all charities have at least one vacancy on their board, we believe that some individuals may genuinely want to get involved with charities and the voluntary sector, but perhaps lack understanding about how to get involved and become a trustee of a charity.
We’ve set out some brief guidelines below which may be useful in showing you how you can become involved in a charity that matters to you:
What is a charity trustee?
Charity trustees have overall responsibility for directing how the charity is run. They determine the charity’s future plans and ensure it sticks to its purposes and spends its money responsibly on the activities it was raised for. Trustees are in the vast majority of cases, unpaid volunteers, although they are entitled to be reimbursed out-of-pocket expenses for their involvement as a trustee.
Who can become a trustee?
Most people over the age of 18 years (or 16 if the charity is set up as a company or Charitable Incorporated Organisation) can become a charity trustee. Certain individuals are unable to become trustees for various reasons set out below:
- They have an unspent criminal conviction involving dishonesty or deception;
- They are an undischarged bankrupt; or
- They have been disqualified from acting as a director.
How do I become a trustee?
- Search for vacancies for trustees. You can do this by looking for adverts in the press, approaching charities directly or finding vacancies on the Do-it website or Trusteefinder. Certain organisations match skilled volunteers to trustee roles, such as Trusteeworks or trustees-unlimited.
- Choose a charity that inspires and motivates you that you want to become involved with and find out as much as you can about the charity. Check the charity’s recent accounts and reflect upon the challenges and issues the charity faces.
- Consider whether your skills and expertise are appropriate or whether any further training will be required.
- Check the expected time commitment and consider whether you can comply with this.
- Speak to the staff and other charity trustees and start getting involved with the charity by participating in fundraising events and attend sector networking events.