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Ellie Williams  

Solicitor, Private Client

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Top 5 tips for your Charity on International Day of Charity

 

Article date:  05/09/2016

International Day of Charity was founded by the United Nations in 2012 in recognition of the role of charity in alleviating humanitarian crises and human suffering.

Held annually on September 5, the day celebrates the achievements of charitable organisations and individuals, and encourages the support of charities.

To celebrate the day, Midlands' law firm Higgs & Sons has put together some timely advice for local charities in the form of top tips.

Ellie Williams, a specialist lawyer at Higgs working in the Charity and Not for Profit team, comments:

"International Day of Charity is an opportunity for charities to remind themselves about good governance, regulatory compliance and charity law in order to continue their excellent work for many years to come. Adhering to some straightforward governance tips when managing a charitable organisation is expected, prudent and will make a significant difference to the charity's impact and effectiveness."

TOP 5 TIPS

Diligent recruitment of Trustees

Trustees are the guardians of the charity and responsible for overseeing all of its activities. It is essential that existing Trustees recruit responsibly and have appropriate recruitment processes in place, for example carrying out DBS checks where required, or taking references. Another important aspect of recruitment is filling skills gaps: if the Board would benefit from a Trustee with certain skills, then actively recruit for those skills!

Keep clear and detailed records

Clear, accurate and timely minutes of all meetings and decisions made by the Trustees are crucial to ensuring transparency and accountability. Make sure the charity's governing document (that is its constitution, trust deed or articles of association) are up to date and are retained along with any other key documents and in a safe place. And be sure to lodge any documents or records required with the Charity Commission.

Make sure Trustees understand their role

The role of a charity Trustee is one of great responsibility and every Trustee should be inducted on joining the Board to ensure that they understand their role, responsibilities and duties within the charity. Trustees should be provided with all relevant documents pertaining to the charity on joining including copies of the governing documents and recent accounts.

Keep informed

Make sure your Trustees are aware of any changes in charity law and suggest they read the Charity Commission's guidance which is changed and updated regularly. Of equal importance is ensuring Trustees remain informed about what is going on in their own organisation, that they keep the charity's activities under review and that clear reporting lines are in place. Regular training is now expected by the Charity Commission.

Take expert advice when needed!

Some issues are complex and require expert advice. Professional fees are a legitimate expense for a charity to incur and Trustees should take specialist advice to demonstrate that they are acting in the best interests of the charity. Seeking advice at an early stage can ultimately save time and expense. 

Ellie concludes: "International Day of Charity is a global affair, but closer to home there are some simple ways to support the initiative and make a difference:

  • Volunteer your time
  • Make a donation
  • Publicise a charity's success - this doesn't have to be formal, social media is very effective at spreading success stories
  • Become a Trustee - pick a cause you feel passionate about, make sure you understand the role and are able to commit long term
  • Plan your own fundraising event or challenge

"At Higgs & Sons we know that charities are subject to a vast range of regulatory, legal and accounting requirements and our specialist holistic team can support a charity and its Trustees in respect of any aspect of their operations."

View all articles for 2016

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