Posts tagged ‘Trustee’

Well it really depends on what you mean by paid.

Remuneration

your time is a valuable resourceIt is true that a Trustee can not be paid for the time and skills committed to assisting the charity.  This is to prevent conflicts of interest when a Trustees personal decisions are not necessarily in line with those of the charity, and ensures that the charity sector doesn’t ruin the trust it has built with the public with media stories of fat cat bonuses, like the banking sector are still trying to shrug off.

Expenses

California StreetA Trustee should not however, be out of pocket.  It is one thing to donate your time, thoughts and energy to the cause, but to be financially worse off as a result is recognised by the Sector, after all attracting highly skilled people to take on the time commitment and huge responsibility of Trusteeship is difficult enough.

It is therefore considered acceptable to reimburse such as travel to Trustees meetings and specifically identifiable telephone call charges.

It is imperative however that the governing document (usually a Memorandum and Articles of Association, a Trust Deed or a Constitution) allows this.  Many of these documents have not been revised since the origin of the charity and more often than not prohibit any payment of charity funds to Trustees.

If expenses are allowed then Trustees should be careful to ensure adequate controls have been designed and fully implemented so that their governance of charitable funds is not questioned.  Your auditor should be able to advise whether the systems in place constitute “adequate controls”.

Services

In the Charities Act 2011 which was implemented in phases between 2006 and 2011, it was acknowledged that in some circumstances it is perfectly logical and commercial for a Trustee to tender for work to be carried out for the charity.  For example, if a surveyor was a partner in a Chartered firm and a Trustee, it would be nonsense to engage the services of a different firm to offer advice regarding properties held, when the Trustee already knows the objectives of the charity, the opinions of the Trustees and the properties involved. He may even offer his professional services at a preferential rate.

Once again the Governing document may prohibit this, but assuming it doesn’t, the board must ensure that they are using charitable resources in the most effective manner and the Trustee in question must be removed from any decision making process in respect of his firm’s appointment.

Regulation

This is bound to be a focus point of Charity Commission scrutiny, so make sure you read the guidance on their website and liaise with your auditor before considering this.

It is also possible to obtain the Commission’s approval, which I would recommend if the amounts involved are substantial or relate to non-commercial circumstances such as compensation for loss of earning because the Trustee was required to attend a meeting.

The Commission also has the power to override the governing document, which may be useful if time does not allow for the document to be amended and approved.

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.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

Trustees Liability

In the past trustees have been worried that they may be personally liable for mistakes they make which put charitable assets at risk.

The Charities Act 2006 (which is still being implemented in phases) introduces two small but important changes.

Indemnity Insurance

If trustees act prudently, lawfully and in accordance with their governing document, then any liability trustees incur may be met by the charity’s resources.

Charities can take out insuracne to cover such circumstances.

Any breach of trust will result in the trustee being personally responsible fpr making good any loss to the charity.  Since trustees are acting  as a collective governing body, they will usually be jointly and severally responsible.

Personal Liability Insurance

Risk is when an outcome’s probability is known. Uncertainty is when an outcome’s probability is unknown.Trustees are now able to procure trustee indemnity insurance using the charity’s funds, to protect them from personal liability to third parties.  This is still deemed to be a trustee benefit but it is no longer a requirement to gain permission from the Charity Commission provided that the governing document does not prohibit it.

Fair use of charitable resources?

Trustees need to consider the nature or the charity’s activities, the degree of risk to which the trustees are exposed, the number of trustees to be covered and the cost to the charity of paying the premiums when deciding whether insurance is a good use of resources.

Of course, there is nothing stopping trustees from arranging and paying for their own policies.

 

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.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

The Finance Act 2010 introduced a new definition which Charities (and Community Amateur Sports Clubs) will need to adopt in order to ensure it remains entitled to tax relief.

Management Condition

The new definition introduces the term ‘management condition’ and states that managers must be deemed to be fit and proper persons to manage the charity.  The term manager is deemed to relate to any person who has day to day control over the running of the charity and any persons who can assert influence over its running.

Fit and Proper Declaration

An individual is considered ‘fit and proper’ if they ensure that charity funds and tax reliefs are used only for charitable purposes.  HMRC have advised that all managers should sign a declaration as to whether they are ‘fit and proper’ they suggest a person declares the following:

  1. I am not disqualified from acting as a charity trustee
  2. I have not been convicted of an offence involving deception or dishonesty
  3. I have not been involved in tax fraud
  4. I am not an undischarged bankrupt
  5. I have not made compositions or arrangements with my creditors from which I have not been discharged
  6. I have not been removed from serving as a charity trustee or been stopped from acting in a management position within a charity
  7. I have not been disqualified from serving as a Company Director
  8. I will at all times ensure the charity’s funds and charity tax reliefs received by this organisation are used only for charitable purposes

More paperwork….

For most people this will not be too onerous a declaration and will only be a question of form filling to ensure you have the paperwork in place should it ever be requested. Another example of red tape that could prevent your charitable status from being challenged, which could have catastrophic tax consequences.

 

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.

The designatory letters DChA are used by holders of a Diploma in Charity Accounting, a qualification awarded by The Institute of Chartered Accountants  (ICAEW) who hope that it will inspire confidence that the holder of the Diploma has the knowledge to make a real difference to the prosperity of an organisation through understanding of charity accounting and financial management.

Prior to 2007 the diploma could be achieved through study and examination or by submitting evidence of experience in advising the 3rd sector.  The ‘experience’ route is no longer available.

At the time of writing this post, around 700 accountants in the UK hold this diploma (listed here) and just over half of these are working in practice as auditors / independant examiners and advisers.   The remaining mainly being financial managers working with in the sector itself.


As a trustee, what does using an accountant with the Diploma mean to you?

  • Confidence to trust them to provide specialist financial care with knowledge of your sector and its inherent challenges
  • Reassurance that they understand the complexities of Charity Accounting
  • Non-financial matters such as governance are addressed with practical solutions
  • Information is presented in a straightforward and understandable manner
  • Value for Money services with fixed fees and experienced resources to keep fees to a minimum
  • You can get on with running your charity knowing that you are in safe hands!

In my opinion providing services to not-for-profit organisations takes additional expertise as the sector has specific accounting requirements as well as a different type environment in terms of targets, principles, reporting and management needs.  Often the people working within this sector do so for low or no monetary reward and do not necessarily have the same skills of someone who has been involved in a corporate environment.  Therefore the level of support and the approach taken to professional advice should be different.

To get the most value from your professional advisers, it is essential that they have carried out adequate and relevant professional development (CPD) and have experience in your industry.


Update:  In August 2010, ICAEW announced that in response to demand the DChA experience route is being re-opened for senior professionals in charity accounting to gain recognition for their expertise.

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.

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.

Safeguards

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.

When working with charities, the question I get asked the most is “is our TAR detailed enough?” as they naturally do not want to expose all, yet they appreciate that this is a key document that is clearly defined by the SORP 2005 and is crucial in demonstrating compliance with the public benefit tests (see previous blog post ‘Public benefit – your best defence…’)

To answer the question directly the report should:

  • be about 4-6 pages of A4 print, font 11 for a small to medium sized organisation
  • clearly explain how the organisation fulfils it’s objects and adheres to it’s governing document
  • use plain English and refer to the accounts to which it is attached, but not regurgitate the accounting information
  • use the prescribed format set out in the SORP.  i.e. use the 7 key headings.

For those who are not familiar with the SORP 2005, these prescribed headings are:

  1. References and administrative details of the Charity, its Trustees and advisers
  2. Structure, Governance and Management
  3. Objectives and Activities
  4. Achievements and Performance
  5. Financial Review
  6. Plans for future periods
  7. Funds held as a Custodian Trustee (if appropriate)

Model reports are available on the Charity Commission Website  http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/

Some key points that are often missed

  • In paragraph 2 explain how trustees are recruited and outline the policies for induction/training of trustees.  Mapping the skills of the board and recruiting to fill skills gaps is a sign of great governance.  If your organisation has carried out this exercise, brag!
  • When explaining to the reader your objectives, paragraph 3, focus on the positive impact significant activities have had and explain how they have contributed to the achievement of the stated objectives.  If the organisation is grant making, ensure the policies are explained and if volunteers are utilised, readers need to understand their role and contribution.  If possible, quantify this in terms of hours, locations etcetera
  • bs00876aPerformance, paragraph 4, should identify milestones and KPI’s so that achievements can be benchmarked against objectives.  The public are keen to know the percentage of resources allocated to overheads, they need to understand the ROI i.e. impact per pound of funds raised.  This is obviously difficult to quantify as many of the aims are emotional, not financial, but trustees should not shy away from trying.  I have often seen larger, national charities measure their impact in terms of taxpayers money saved.
  • The financial review needs to look at each fund and state the principle financial policies adopted.  Take time to clearly explain the reserves policy in particular as the Charity Commission will be monitoring this.  Make comment on how the current years performance and the current activities effect reserves.  Also, outline any financial commitments such as borrowing or obligatory grants.

This list is not exhaustive, but I hope I have set out the key points, please call me if you would like to discuss your TAR or would like me to review your draft.  Please note however, that an auditor can not write this report for you so please don’t ask!

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.