Posts tagged ‘Commercial Manner’

History and culture has fuelled belief that Trustees can not be paid for their time, expertise or services rendered.  Whilst they should not be paid simply for acting as a Trustee, Chapter 9 of the Charities Act 2006 includes a statutory power that allows trustees and connected persons to be remunerated for goods and services they provide to the charity, subject to specific safeguards being in place to prevent abuse.

The biggest stumbling block is the governing document. 

As many charities were formed prior to the 2006 Act, standard clauses are often included in incorporation documents, constitutions or trust deeds that specifically prohibit trustee remuneration.  Obviously, this needs to be overcome before any further consideration can take place.  Amendments to governing documents are often complicated and time consuming due to their ‘public’ nature and may need to be approved by the Charity Commission.  Read guidance.


Assuming such a clause does not exist, the safeguards specifically mentioned by the 2006 Act are:

  • The trustees must demonstrate that they have consulted Charity Commission guidance and have decided that it would be in the charity’s best interest for the services to be provided by the trustee/connected person.
  • There must be a written agreement between the individual and the charity recording the terms of the arrangement and specifically the amount of remuneration agreed.  The individual being remunerated must not be involved in any decisions or other matters related to this agreement.
  • The amount of remuneration agreed to be paid by the Trustees must be reasonable for the level of service being provided.  In other words, there needs to be evidence that the Trustees are utilising resources in a commercial manner.  This is a key principle of Trusteeship.
  • Only a minority of Trustees can be remunerated in any form.  So if there is a small Board, take care.

A charity trustee should not be in a position where any personal interest may conflict with their role as a trustee.  They should not benefit directly or indirectly from their position whether through payment in money or benefits in kind.

A working example

A small charity has a part time bookkeeper who reports to a practicing accountant on the Board of Trustees. 

In order to qualify for a grant, the charity has been asked to put together a departmental cash flow forecast and some projected profit and loss accounts.  Obviously the person best placed to do this would be the Trustee as they understand the organisation and the requirements of the grant making body and have the relevant competancies, but they do not have the time.  They are in business full-time and offer their experience and personal time as a Trustee, for emotional motives. 

In the past, the Charity would have no choice but to engage an accountant to carry out this task, incurring professional fees, probably at full market rate as well as investing time to properly seek out, appoint and brief the professional.

The 2006 Act, acknowledges that it would make sense to engage the practice that their Trustee is involved with as this would be efficient and fees may well be negotiable.

In my view, this is a positive step towards making the 3rd sector more commercially aware, something I am passionate about.

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.