Framework for Trustee Inductions

 

Small charities often don’t provide an induction for new trustees. A trustee induction is a worthwhile investment for both the charity and its trustees to provide a framework for both the role and the organisation. It’s even more vital for anyone for whom this is their first time as a trustee. Whilst an induction is primarily for new trustees, it may be helpful to provide a session for all trustees, especially if the trustee induction is a new initiative.

 

Every new trustee will come with a different level of experience and experience about the role and the organisation. Every charity is different, so this framework needs to be tailored for your charity. It has been written for a UK audience but could be used as a starting point for use other countries.

 

For many people the prospect of an hour listening to someone talk about governance is not inspiring! So look for ways to make it interactive and if possible fun:

  • I find competitive quizzes in teams livens things up considerably.

  • It’s worth considering breaking the induction down into several short sessions, possibly 15-20 minutes before or at the start (not the end) of a board meeting ie while energy is high.

 

Aims of a trustee induction

  1. To give a basic understanding of the role of a charity trustee

  2. To provide information about the charity and its governance

  3. To understand what the charity and its trustees are empowered to do

  4. To identify/agree some guidelines for practical operation

  5. To flush out questions that trustees may have

  6. To enable the trustees to have a common understanding and work well together for the success of the charity

 

 

Suggested Trustee Induction Session Content

 

This downloadable PDF can be used to develop your own tailored version of a trustee induction programme.

 

1. The organisation

  • Vision, mission and values

  • Legal structure:

    • registered charity; charitable incorporated organisation, charitable company, trust or unincorporated association;

    • trustees, members

  • Governing documents: CIO constitution or Memorandum & Articles of Association; objects and powers

  • Strategy and programmes

  • Staff

  • Properties and assets

  • Public benefit

 

2. The trustee role

  • Responsibilities (ref Charity Commission guidance The Essential Trustee)

  • Other expectations of trustees/roles & responsibilities for particular trustees.

See sample Trustees’ Training handout below.

 

3. Trustees, trustee meetings & policies

  • How we operate: agendas, meetings, minutes, terms of office, reviewing trustee skills mix

  • Board policies eg reserves policy; conflicts of interest; risk management;

  • Sub-committees

 

4. Finances

  • Budget cycle & approval

  • Sources of funding and fundraising

  • Regular accounts & how to interpret them

  • Financial management: monitoring and forecasting

  • Annual (statutory) accounts: audit or independent inspection; trustees report; understanding the statement of financial activities & balance sheet

  • Financial issues for Board members to monitor

  • Levels of authority

 

5. Any questions?

 

NB Interactive quizzes in teams can be a fun and competitive way to help trustees absorb governance information. The PDF below has some sample questions or you can develop your own.

 

Suggested Trustees Induction Pack Contents

 

This downloadable PDF can be used to develop your own tailored version of the contents for an induction training pack for trustees.

 

This may form part of a board or governance handbook or electronic folder. There are likely to be several stand-alone documents. Items 3, 4, 5, 10 and 11 are the most important to provide.

  1. Trustee training handout (see below)

  2. Organisation structure

  3. Governance document eg Memorandum and Articles of Association or CIO Constitution.

  4. Strategic plan (including vision, mission and values)

  5. Latest annual report & financial statements

  6. Latest management accounts

  7. Twelve steps to understanding accounts

  8. Fundraising case for support

  9. Schedule of polices

  10. Summary risk register

  11. Charity Commission The governance jigsaw & 6 main duties https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/544220/Jigsaw.pdf

  12. Charity Commission The Essential Trustee CC3 & CC3a https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/704641/CC3_may18.pdf and https://www.gov.uk/guidance/charity-trustee-whats-involved

  13. Charity Commission 15 Questions trustees should ask https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/569550/15_questions_trustees_should_ask.pdf

  14. Board skills matrix form to complete & return: see PDF at https://www.helensheadlines.net/a-board-skills-matrix

  15. Companies House AP01 information for new company director’s online completion by company secretary https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/appoint-a-director-ap01

 

Suggested Trustees Training Handout

 

This downloadable PDF can be used to develop your own tailored version of a trustee training handout.

 

As a trustee you should:

  1. Be clear about the role & responsibilities of a trustee and the board. This is a governance not a management role.

  2. Understand the organisation: it’s governing document, vision, values, strategy, finances, assets, risk register and policies and be supportive of it.

  3. Attend and prepare well for all meetings and follow through promptly on any actions.

  4. Pray regularly for the organisation and its people.

  5. Ask questions and be willing to challenge robustly but graciously.

  6. Together with other trustees:

    • Set, monitor and review the charity’s strategic aims, objectives & direction.

    • Take ultimate responsibility for ensuring the charity is solvent and well run.

 

The main duties of trustees (as stated by the Charity Commission) are:

  1. Ensure the charity is carrying out its purposes for the public benefit

  2. Comply with the charity’s governing document and the law

  3. Act in the charity’s best interests

  4. Manage the charity’s resources responsibly

  5. Act with reasonable care and skill

  6. Ensure the charity is accountable

 

The key documents to refer to are:

  • The governing document (Constitution, Memorandum & Articles of Association or Trust Deed)

  • Strategic plan including vision, mission and values

  • Annual report and financial statements (accounts)

  • Risk register

 

The Governing Document

This is the Memorandum and Articles of Association, Constitution or Trust Deed. Whilst the chair and company secretary should take the lead in ensuring that all practice follows the governing document, all trustees should be aware of the following key points:

  • What the charity can do & how it can use its income & property (objects & powers)

  • Limitation of benefits

  • The liability of members

  • Indemnity of trustees and officers

  • Chair responsibilities and appointment

  • Delegation & committees

  • Trustee meetings & decisions: notice; quorum;  conflicts of interest

  • Trustees & appointment  (ie trustees) minimum & maximum number of trustees, duration of trustee term & maximum number of terms

  • Members of the charity if they exist as a separate group from trustees

  • General meetings & resolutions

  • Communication

  • Minutes, accounts, winding up & other points

It may be helpful for subsequent reference to write the relevant article numbers on this list or to highlight these sections on your own paper or electronic copy of the governing document

 

Signposts

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-essential-trustee-what-you-need-to-know-cc3

  • Charity Commission 15 questions

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/569550/15_questions_trustees_should_ask.pdf

  • Charity Commission CC 25 Finance Essentials

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/managing-charity-assets-and-resources-cc25

  • Charity Commission Fundraising Guidance CC20

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/charities-and-fundraising-cc20

  • Fundraising Regulator code of practice

https://www.fundraisingregulator.org.uk/code-of-fundraising-practice/code-of-fundraising-practice-v1-4-310717-docx/

  • Taken on Trust

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/taken-on-trust-awareness-and-effectiveness-of-charity-trustees-in-england-and-wales

 

 

Author and copyright: Helen Calder 2019.

This resource has been peer reviewed.