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Is too much pressure being placed on trustees?

View profile for Tim Field
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Is too much pressure being placed on trustees?

I have read some interesting articles lately that suggest too much pressure is being placed on charity trustees. As I regularly advise charities, and am a trustee myself, it is important to remember the statutory duties a trustee has and the standards to which they must perform. However, are these standards becoming too onerous and deterring individuals from becoming a trustee?

Some charity trustees have expressed a sense of vulnerability. If something negative about the charity is mentioned online, whether it be on social media or on a news website, there is an expectation that the trustees will deal with the matter immediately, or that the trustees have failed in their governance of the charity. This can have a knock-on effect, causing trustees to make snap decisions to the further detriment of the charity. If the trustees fail to carry out a full and thorough investigation, those snap decisions may come back to haunt them.

Charity law is always evolving and, whilst the Charity Commission issues guidance to trustees, the laws and guidance can be both extensive and complicated. This can sometimes put off potential trustees, especially as new guidance is issued on a very regular basis.

Being a trustee is a privilege and can be very rewarding, but it has to be remembered that most trustees are unpaid and are therefore providing assistance on a voluntary basis. I certainly wouldn't like to see a drop in those wanting to become a trustee, simply because they feel too much pressure is being placed on them.

If you wish to discuss a charity incorporation, are a trustee looking for advice or wish to discuss becoming a trustee for a charity, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am based in our Colchester office and can be contacted on 01206 217366 or tim.field@birkettlong.co.uk.

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