Charities and Trustees
This page holds some resources for trustees. If you can not find what you want or have a more complex question then contact CCVS or come on a training course.
Our support is free to members and we can help you with all aspects of being a trustee.
Charities are organisations set up for the exclusive purpose of carrying out activities for the benefit of the community. Registration with the Charity Commission acknowledges charitable status. The legal structures that can have charitable status include:
- An Association. Small associations with work for the benefit of the community are not normally able to register with the charity commission but must operate within the rules of guidelines of the charity commission. They must register with the charity commission when their income exceeds £5000 per annum. They are an organisation with members with a constitution.
- A Charitable Trust - usually set up to manage money or property for a charitable purpose.
- A Charitable Company - a limited company with charitable aims. Registered and makes returns to Companies House as well as the Charity Commission.
- A Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) - has the advantages of a Charitable Company but is registered and makes return to the Charity Commission only.
To find out more see these information sheets produced by the Resource centre – available here
The Key Features of a charity are:
- Has objectives which are for the public benefit and fall into one of the 13 descriptions of purpose listed in the charities Act
- Trustees are normally unpaid for fulfilling their role as a trustee. However, they can claim appropriate expenses and may do some sessional work in a self-employed capacity in delivering the organisations activities.
- Employed staff are not normally trustee, but may attend the management committee to report and advise
- Charities do not get involved with Party Political campaigning or support, but they may campaign on issues such as; improve people’s quality of life, inequality or having better opportunities, improving the environment, animal rights etc.
- Charities carry out only primary purpose trading – where they sell donated items or goods/services that derive from the primary purposes tax free. HMRC also allows a limited amount of other trading such as selling Christmas cards etc.
"Trustees have overall control of a charity and are responsible for making sure it’s doing what it was set up to do. They may be known by other titles, such as:
- board members
- committee members
Whatever they are called, trustees are the people who lead the charity and decide how it is run. Being a trustee means making decisions that will impact on people’s lives. Depending on what the charity does, you will be making a difference to your local community or to society as a whole.
Trustees use their skills and experience to support their charities, helping them achieve their aims. Trustees also often learn new skills during their time on the board."
(from the Charity Commission leaflet CC3a)
Charity Commission Guidance for trustees
- The Essential Trustee - What's required of a charity trustee, including your responsibilities to your charity. - available here
- Charity Trustee: Whats involved - Find out what being a charity trustee involves, if you can claim expenses and where to get help and advice. - available here
- Charity Fundraising: a guide to trustee duties - What charities and their trustees need to consider when fundraising from the public. - available here
Related pages in the support section of this website
- Running a Community Group
Other guides and resources for trustees
There are lots of guides and resources for trustees these include
- The Resource Centre – information and guidance sheets – available here
- NCVO - some free and some paid resources - available here
- Reach volunteering - some guides and good practice, and also a trustee recuruitment service - available here
- Institute of Fundraising - resources and a free guide for trustees about fundraising - available here
- The Charities Governance Code – available here
- DSC governance app online tool to help improve governance - available here
The Getting on Board guide, How to recruit trustees for your charity - available here