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November 8th, 2016ArticlesGeoffrey Hand 0 Comments

Charity Governance Consultancy

Troublesome trustees cross my desk only too often.

Maybe there would be fewer troublesome trustees if more charity trustee boards adopted a Trustees’ Code of Conduct. How about yours?

Clarity and accountability

With a Code of Conduct, your trustees could spend less time and energy in trying to resolve trustee issues or even in removing  troublesome trustees. So you can get on with your primary function of safeguarding and directing the future of your charity.

Your Trustee Code of Conduct can be really effective in smoothing the workings of your trustee board. It can provide a benchmark for your trustees’ behaviour and an understanding of your roles.  Enabling your trustees to be transparent open and accountable in what you do and how you do it. 

For your charity’s needs

Your Trustee Code of Conduct should ideally be bespoke to your charity. Codes do vary in complexity but generally they have a lot in common.

Your charity trustees should be amenable to signing up to commitments such as these, namely to:

  • have a sound and up-to-date knowledge of the organisation and its environment
  • attend meetings and other appointments or give apologies
  • prepare fully for meetings and for all work for the organisation
  • actively engage in respectful discussion, debate and voting in meetings
  • act jointly and accept a majority decision
  • work considerately and respectfully with all, respecting diversity, different roles and boundaries, avoiding giving offence
  • respect confidentiality
  • act within the governing document and the law
  • act in the best interests of the organisation as a whole
  • manage conflicts of interest effectively
  • not to gain materially or financially unless specifically authorised to do so

Now is a good time

These are good times to put a Code of Conduct in place:

  • when recruiting new trustees;
  • as part of a governance review;
  • if ever your trustees feel they could be doing things better; and
  • on your trustees emerging from a difficult period and in the light of that experience.

Put your Code of Conduct into a Declaration Form for each of your trustees, old and new, to sign.

And here’s a Cunning Tip

Include a clause whereby a trustee acknowledges that a substantial breach of the Code can result in removal from trusteeship.  An extra string to your bow to get rid of any sadly troublesome trustees.

Do bear in mind that these provisions must tie in with your charity’s governing document.

And it makes a difference if your charity is a Limited Company or a Charitable Incorporated Organisation.

And of course this might be a good moment to check that it’s not YOU who is one of the troublesome trustees by having a quick run through Good Trustee/Bad Trustee – The Quiz…

Remember, I’m here to help with your charity’s Code of Conduct and to rid you of your troublesome trustees.

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Geoffrey Hand

Geoffrey Hand is a charity governance consultant, offering governance consultancy and training. He also provides legal services management, helping charities get better value for money from their lawyers. Geoffrey has extensive experience in the charity and legal worlds, and his mission is to help charities deliver good governance.

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