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Top Tips: How to Be the Best Charity Trustee

You’ve been appointed as a trustee. What are the first steps you should take to ensure you’re going to be a good addition to the board?

Explore the Charity Commission’s Guidance
Your starting place (whether you’re new or not!) should always be the Charity Commission. It is the body to which trustees are accountable and by which they are are regulated. As an initial step have a look at the commission’s guidance outlining the six key duties of trustees and explaining the legal responsibilities. This should be your first port of call for understanding the essential requirements of being a trustee.

Get Some Training
It is critical that trustees have the necessary skills to contribute fully to a board, so it’s a good idea to identify early on where there be might be gaps in your abilities. This isn’t about being an expert in every single element of running a charity – but trustees do need to ensure that they can maintain a general grasp of everything that’s going on.

Many boards run a skills analysis of new trustees, but it is always helpful to reflect first on where you might need support. As trustees progress through their board career, it’s useful to do regular self-appraisals, as well as encouraging the whole board to appraise itself annually as well. Self-appraisal will help trustees realise when it’s time to move on – another important element of being a good trustee.

Get a Mentor
One of the best steps you can take if you’re new to anything, not just a board, is to find yourself a mentor. At first, you may want to consider someone who is already on the board – a sympathetic ear to just sound check ideas with. If you’ve been a trustee for a while, however, and already know the organisation, it is worthwhile getting a mentor from a different board. That will allow you to compare experiences and seek best practice from elsewhere. Obviously, this doesn’t have to be formal – a coffee before a meeting or a drink afterwards will suffice. This is about networking with your peer group.

If you are already a trustee, then offer to mentor someone else – it’s always nice when a newbie enters the room and is offered support like this.

To view the full Guardian Voluntary Sector Network article click here.


Old Meets New As Contactless Payment Tech Added To Collection Devices

A new partnership is enabling charities to accept cashless charity donations via traditional-style collection boxes and buckets.

Charity collection box maker Angal has teamed up with cashless transaction provider Thyngs to incorporate QR/NFC technology into collection boxes and buckets, enabling charities to take card payments and Apple Pay donations as well as cash. The organisations say Android Pay and PayPal will follow later this year.

Supporters will be able to donate an amount of their choice using their smartphones, and the contactless technology will also allow Gift Aid declarations and remote monitoring of each collection device’s performance.

Lee Woodford, managing director of Angal said: “The Thyngs technology allows Angal to pioneer a safe and secure way for our clients to accept cashless donations. Supporters simply scan or tap their mobile phone on our collecting boxes and can donate in less than 15 seconds. This ease of use was one of the key reasons we joined up with Thyngs. Any boxes with the old FRSB tick logo will need replacing soon, so now is the perfect time to upgrade.”

The technology does come at a price though – the collection buckets and boxes will cost at least 60p more per unit, depending on the order volume. Thyngs, which takes a 2.5% fee on each donation in addition to any card-processing costs taken by payment processors, says a single £1 donation made using the technology will cover that cost.

Source: Charity Digital News


Charities ‘Missing Vital Opportunity’ To Show How They Benefit The Public

The Charity Commission has published the findings of its work to scrutinise charity accounts, finding that 54% of those reviewed did not meet the public benefit reporting requirement. The regulator says these charities are missing a vital opportunity to tell their story and explain their impact.

As part of its regular programme of charity accounts scrutiny, the regulator analysed a random sample of 107 charity accounts against two criteria:

 how charities are reporting on the public benefit requirement
 whether the accounts meet readers’ needs

Separately, the Commission scrutinised a random sample of 109 accounts of charities with incomes of under £25k to examine their overall quality.

Public Benefit
The Commission found that 54% of charities (58) did not meet the public benefit reporting requirement. Out of these charities, 13 failed the requirement as they did not describe the difference that their charity had made; 21 charities did not include the statement that they had complied with the public benefit requirements and read our guidance and 24 charities did not do either.

The report includes an example case study from the sample, demonstrating that it can be easy for trustees to get this right and explain succinctly and clearly how their work benefits the public and the difference that they make.

Nigel Davies, Head of Accountancy Services at the Charity Commission of England and Wales, said: “Many charities do a great job of explaining how their work benefits the public. But this review indicates that too many charities are missing out on an important opportunity to tell the public why their work matters, and what difference they are making.

“We know from wider research how important it is for donors and supporters to know how charities are spending their money. Your report and accounts say a lot about your charity’s attitude to accountability and transparency and so don’t miss out on this opportunity. The easiest way to improve the quality of your accounts and report is to use our templates; we know the charities that do use our templates produce accounts of much better quality.”

The full reports are available on GOV.UK.

To read the full Charity Digital News Article click here.


Eleven Charities Fined for Data Protection Breaches

The Information Commissioner’s Office has fined eleven charities that breached the Data Protection Act by misusing donors’ personal data.

ICO investigations found many of the charities secretly screened millions of donors so they could target them for additional funds. Some charities traced and targeted new or lapsed donors by piecing together personal information obtained from other sources. And some traded personal details with other charities creating a large pool of donor data for sale.

A summary of how each charity breached the law can be found here.

The Information Commissioner has exercised her discretion in significantly reducing the level of today’s fines, taking into account the risk of adding to any distress caused to donors by the charities’ actions. The same approach was taken to fines issued to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (£25,000) and British Heart Foundation (£18,000) in December.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “Millions of people will have been affected by these charities’ contravention of the law. They will be upset to learn the way their personal information has been analysed and shared by charities they trusted with their details and their donations.

To read the Charity Digital News article in full click here.


New Reporting Obligation to HMRC Affects Charities Making Grants

Those charities which receive more than half of their income from financial investments in any year need to check whether they have an obligation to report details of their grant recipients to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). If more than half of your charity’s income is from financial investments and those investments are managed for you in whole or in part by a broker, fund manager, independent financial adviser, or wealth manager then you may need to carry out checks on your grant recipients and make a report to HMRC to meet your obligations under the ‘Common Reporting Standard’.

The Common Reporting Standard is a global agreement to combat offshore tax evasion through the sharing of financial information between tax administrations. For more information on the Common Reporting Standard and the reporting requirements please refer to guidance issued by HMRC.

To read other Charity Commission news click here.

Want to keep up to date with all the Charity Commissions news, guidance and events? Make sure you’re following them on Twitter @ChtyCommission, LinkedIn, and sign up to their blog from their website.

Source: Charity Commission News Issue 56 – February 2017


Regulatory Alerts Issued For Fundraising Charities

The Charity Commission recently issued an alert to promote the new Charities Act fundraising rules, which came in to force on 1 November 2016. The new rules affect:

 the trustees’ annual reports of larger charities that fundraise from the public
 the agreements that must be in place when third party fundraisers raise money for charities

The changes will help charities demonstrate their commitment to protecting donors and the public from poor fundraising practices. The new law will also help to ensure that fundraising standards form part of the agreements between charities and any commercial participators or professional fundraisers with whom they work. Find out how your charity is affected by the new provisions, and when compliance with them is required. You can also look at Charity reporting and accounting: the essentials (CC15d) which have been updated to reflect the new requirements.

The Charity Commission also issued joint alerts with the Fundraising Regulator about the importance of following data protection law when handling donors’ personal information, and about complying with their legal trustee duties when working with third party fundraisers as set out in the Commission’s guidance Charity fundraising: a guide to trustee duties (CC20).

To read other Charity Commission news click here.

Want to keep up to date with all the Charity Commissions news, guidance and events? Make sure you’re following them on Twitter @ChtyCommission, LinkedIn, and sign up to their blog from their website.

Source: Charity Commission News Issue 56 – February 2017


One in Four Organisations Still Unprepared for GDPR

A quarter of marketers (26%) believe their organisations are still unprepared for the introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), with just over half (56%) reporting that they feel prepared and 5% believing it’s not their responsibility.

In addition, just two-thirds (68%) of those asked said their business would be GDPR compliant in time for 2018, according to the second edition of the DMA’s ‘GDPR and you’ series of studies into the industry’s awareness and preparedness for the GDPR.

The results show that two-thirds of respondents (66%) have ‘good’ awareness – rising from 53% in June 2016 – and that marketers ‘personal’ feeling of preparedness has increased dramatically from 49% to 71%. However, there is still a clear need for urgency with many marketers not believing their businesses will be compliant before the new rules will come into place.

According to the research, over a third (37%) of marketers said profiling is one of their biggest concerns under GDPR, while half (50%) said it was legacy data and the runaway winner is consent with 70% agreeing that it would change under the GDPR. The result of these concerns is that the biggest priority for business are ‘conducting impact assessments’ (42%), ‘giving data subjects greater control of their data’ (36%) and ‘revising your data policy’ (31%). ‘Auditing your data privacy policy’ on the other hand has dropped from 39% to 30% since June 2016.

Chris Combemale, CEO of the DMA group, commented: “May 2018 should be a date that is in every marketer’s diary, giving us around 16 months before the GDPR comes into force. It is concerning that only half of our industry feels their businesses are prepared for the new rules and not that many more believe they will be ready in time. The finish line for GDPR readiness is fixed and the risk to businesses of not being compliant is significant. Our advice is to continue preparations in earnest over the coming year. Not making it across the line in time is not an option.”

To read the full article click here

Source: Charity Digital News


Six Ways Charity Boards Can Make Their Workload Manageable

Is your board super busy? Top tips on sharing the burden: bring in specialist expertise, include more junior staff and work with service users.

People on voluntary sector boards have heavy workloads – so what’s the best way to share the burden? Sub-committees may not seem exciting, but, used properly, delegating tasks will help your board to be brilliant.

1. Let them delve into detail
Charity trustees often want to get involved in the nitty gritty. But in a busy board meeting, with a tight agenda, that can sometimes be a pain in the neck.

However, executives and trustees will still want to work together from time to time, to delve into detail. Sub-committees are the way to do this without taking precious time away from the primary board meeting. It’s a great way for charity staff to engage with trustees and vice versa, enabling trustees to gain a better understanding of the day-to-day issues affecting the charity while offering their own expertise.

2. Bring in specialists
If your board is proposing something new, controversial or risky, setting up a sub-committee is a clever way to use people who can bring in particular expertise but who, for whatever reason, do not want to or cannot be a full trustee.

Discussions of fundraising regulation have led to a mini governance crisis. It’s time to get trustees more involved with the day-to-day work of charities

It is also a good way to test whether people come up to scratch in terms of their style and expertise, giving you a bigger pool to choose from when recruiting for your main board.

You should also consider the “internal” outsider: someone already on your main board who is interested in a particular issue but is not an expert. They can be used as a sounding board (pun intended) and this is often a great way to test a proposal before presenting it to the rest of the board.

3. Don’t let sub-committees linger on pointlessly
It’s important to close any committee when it has run its course. For instance, you may set one up for a digital needs review and then close it when the review has been done. But committees can also evolve. Something that starts as a review of digital needs could turn into a committee that monitors the implementation of an organisational IT strategy, for instance.

To read the full Guardian article click here.

From: The Guardian – Voluntary Sector Network


HMRC to Exempt Charities From New Digital Filing Rules

HMRC has confirmed that charities will be granted an exemption from new rules that will force businesses keep digital records of its accounts and produce quarterly updates.

In a consultation on its Making Tax Digital programme, HMRC did however say that while charities will be exempted, trading subsidiaries will need to adhere to the new rules.

In all, 91 responses were provided to the question of whether charities should be included in the proposals, which have been criticised over the suggested timeframe that will see new rules come into force in 2018.

In a statement the government said: “While the proposal to exempt those trading companies who distribute all profits to charity (and therefore had no corporation tax liability) had some merit, they could still have substantive VAT obligations.

“A significant reason for exempting charities is that many of them do not currently have to submit a tax return, and have a number of reliefs available to them for VAT purposes.”

Source: Charity Digital News


Brilliant Boards: How to Create the Best Voluntary Sector Set of Trustees

With 2017 now in full swing, voluntary sector trustees up and down the country will be thinking about what their board could do better, and what they, as an individual trustee, can do differently.

Here are five resolutions to help make 2017’s board your best yet:

Challenge
This may seems obvious. But we know that too many boards are merely rubber-stamping the decisions of their executives without suitable scrutiny and challenge.

The voluntary sector has witnessed the press rail against it in 2016 and high-profile cases have thrust to centre stage the fact that too many charities still have poor governance. As a trustee, challenging decisions is one of your primary roles.

Do a skills audit
Getting the right skills on your board is vital for good governance, to ensure the team can fulfil its primary commitment – to challenge.

Charities need to take risks as well as avoid them, so trustees and managers should draw up a policy to put these in context
Having the right brains around the table to navigate your charity through its challenges and opportunities over the coming year is critical and a skills audit will help you identify the gaps. When scoping the landscape, remind yourself of who is due to step down and when. You don’t want to end up without finance expertise because your forgot your treasurer was due to stand down in the next year. Essentially, you need to analyse the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the skills on your board.

Evaluate your board
Trustees should not be afraid to evaluate each other and themselves to ensure their board is fit for purpose. It sets a powerful precedent when boards hold the mirror up to themselves to evaluate their effectiveness.

This means a top-to-tail review of the people, processes, papers, timetabling, committee use and executive involvement. And on an individual level this is also a good time to consider your own contribution to the board.

Are you just coasting? Perhaps it’s time for you to lend your skills elsewhere and allow your seat around the table to be filled by someone else who can contribute in a different way. Knowing when to step down from a board is critical to that board’s survival. Lame duck trustees are a nuisance.

To read the full article click here

Source: The Guardian


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