Board of Trustees
15 December 2020 | Charity, News

What is a Charity’s Trustee?

Last week we talked about how a charity’s Code of Governance can be used to ensure that a charity meets, even exceeds, its ambitions.  This week, we’ll discuss the role of a charity’s trustees.

In legal terms the trustees have overall responsibility for ensuring that the charity operates within the law.  Generally speaking all charities have a board of volunteer trustees who “the persons having the general control and management of the administration of a charity” (Charities Act, 2011).

At most of the 400,000 or so charities in the UK the trustees are the people who do the work of operating the charity – there are relatively few with paid positions or other volunteers.  Trustees provide oversight for a charity’s operation, and are the final decision-makers.  Meeting several times or more each year, the board of trustees sets the strategy and direction of the charity, and scrutinises its performance over time.  Unless specifically authorised a trustee cannot make decisions alone, with any decisions regarding the governance of the charity being agreed upon by the whole board.

The role of a trustee is set out in the governance document which may be instead be referred to as the charity’s constitution.  Trustees are also bound by specific acts of law, which may vary according to the type of organisation, but include Charity Acts Trustee Act 2000, Companies Acts, and Insolvency Acts.

There a various skills that potential trustees may have, varying from tangible skills such as qualifications to less tangible attributes, such as the ability to motivate people, encourage team working, ask difficult questions, and so on.  People who understand the charity’s community are valuable assets to the organisation.  Like a team in other organisations, a charity’s trustees with a broad range of backgrounds and skills can help deliver successful strategy and direction.

Aughton Ainsworth has established credentials in supporting charities and friendly societies, acting as trustees and providing legal help in all aspects of operating a charity, from registration through to property ownership.  For more information, please contact Andy Williamson at

Aughton Ainsworth is not responsible for the accuracy or content of external web sites, and references to such web sites are provided as-is, and were deemed useful at the time of writing.

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