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“Too many trustees are not familiar with their charity's governing document”

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Paula Sussex, Chief Executive of Charity Commission has expressed concern that too many trustees are not familiar with their charity’s governing document, are failing to ensure proper control and procedures are in place and work, and don’t ask the difficult questions.

During her speech at ICAEW this week, she highlighted that at a time when there is a depressed level of public confidence in the practice and management of charities, good trusteeship is critical to restoring faith in how charitable organisations operate. The Commission is clear that through good governance, charities can get themselves through very difficult situations. Equally, poor governance is at the heart of many of the issues of concern that the Commission deals with day to day, such as unmanaged conflicts of interest, unauthorised trustee payments, breaches of governing documents or vulnerability to fraud and financial crime.

This is further evidence that the Commission is becoming a more proactive, risk-based regulator, with a focus on identifying and robustly tackling the most serious risks.  The Commission has strengthened its regulatory toolkit, and is determined to take robust action as expected from a modern regulator. In addition, the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016 will make the Commission more effective and targeted in their case work with charities.

The Commission clearly wants to see trustees raise their game and really make a difference to charity governance and financial management. Knowing charities are well managed – that competent people are in charge and that the money given to them is spent wisely – is what the Commission believes will restore people’s confidence in charities more than anything else.