Quiz: Do you know your duties as a trustee?

07 Nov 2016 In-depth

To coincide with Trustees' Week, the Charity Commission published a quiz in November's Governance & Leadership magazine to test people on their knowledge of trustees' duties. Can you get all the answers right?

The theme of this year’s Trustees’ Week, the sector’s annual campaign to encourage people to become trustees, is ‘Stronger charities through good leadership’. Organisations are sharing their training, both in person and online, resources and much more for free. Over 50 events have been announced which focus on a variety of aspects of trusteeship including governance, good fundraising practice, and what trustees should know about digital. See www.trusteesweek.org for more.

Partners include the Association of Chairs, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, the Scottish Charity Regulator OSCR, Cass Centre for Charity Effectiveness, Small Charities Coalition, Career Volunteer, Charity Commission for England and Wales, FSI, ICSA, ICAEW, Institute of Fundraising, NUS, NAVCA, NCVO, NGA, Reach, Sgoss, and WCVA. Governance & Leadership magazine is the media partner.

The Charity Commission has put together this quiz to test your knowledge for Trustees’ Week. Do you know all there is to know about being a trustee? Do you need to update yourself? Find out in five minutes. Answers are at the bottom of the page.

1. Which of the following are always the trustees of a charity:

(a) All members of a committee

(b) Whoever is legally responsible for ownership of the premises

(c) Whoever is legally responsible for governing and directing the charity

(d) All the officers of the charity

(e) The local mayor and town crier

2. Who in the charity is responsible for the finances:

(a) All of the trustees

(b) The finance director

(c) The chief executive

(d) Whoever sits closest to the safe

(e) The treasurer

3. At meetings, trustees should always:

(a) Accept information at face value

(b) Be prepared to question and challenge

(c) Accept that the chair knows best

(d) Agree with the majority

(e) Express their views forcefully

4. Charity Commission guidance is relevant to you if you are based in England and Wales and are:

(a) A trustee of a registered charity

(b) A trustee of a charity that is not required by law to register

(c) A trustee of a charity that is required to register but has not yet done so

(d) Any of the above

5. To claim tax reliefs and exemptions (eg gift aid) all the charity’s managers (including trustees) must be/have:

(a) Qualified financial advisers

(b) Fit and proper persons

(c) Maths and English GCSEs at grade C or above; or equivalent

(d) A record of continuous professional development with the Charity Commission

(e) A record of continuous professional development with HMRC

6. If your governing document does not specify who appoints new trustees, how long those appointments last, how they can resign or be removed and who can be a trustee, which of the following is true?

(a) You can appoint/remove trustees in any way you like

(b) New trustees can be appointed, but you must get permission from your local MP

(c) If you are a company you must comply with company law provisions for appointing and removing directors

(d) If you are an unincorporated charity, you must comply with Trustee Act 1925 provisions

(e) Both c and d

7. What should you consider when recruiting trustees? Choose one:

(a) Their star sign

(b) Their political affiliation

(c) The skills and experience the current trustees have and whether there are gaps

(d) Whether they know other trustees on the board

(e) Whether they might upset the ‘status-quo’

8. Why should you report on what your charity is carrying out for the public benefit?

(a) Because it helps market your charity to the public

(b) Because public benefit is trendy right now

(c) It’s about accountability: you should be able to show how your charity’s activities further its objects and benefit the public

(d) Because of public benefit fraud

9. Which one of these statements is not true? Registered charities of any size at all must:

(a) Send information to the Commission every year

(b) Produce annual accounts and a report

(c) File those accounts and report with the Commission if they have income of over £25,000

(d) Report serious incidents to the Commission

(e) Send their accounts to the Queen’s household if they have income of over £1m

10. Which of these is not true? Every single one of your trustees should have:

(a) An up-to-date copy of your charity’s governing document

(b) Read a copy of The Essential Trustee (CC3)

(c) A copy of ‘15 questions’ as a cribsheet for meetings

(d) A copy of the new Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016

(e) A suitable induction to their role as trustee of the charity

11. Which of these is not a conflict of interest? A trustee or someone connected to a trustee:

(a) Doing a triathlon to raise money for the charity

(b) Receiving a payment from the charity for goods or services, including as an employee

(c) Making a loan to or receiving a loan from a charity

(d) Acting for two charities who are competing for the same contract where there is no benefit to you or anybody close to you.

12. Which of the following is not normally allowed:

(a) Trustees betting on the outcome of the London Marathon (with their own money)

(b) Trustees getting paid for their work as trustees

(c) Trustees bringing cake/ sweets for their management team

(d) Trustees going on television to talk about their charity’s work

(e) Trustees using the charity’s services where these are normally open to the public

13. Which of the following is not one of the key duties of a trustee:

(a) Ensure your charity is carrying out its purposes for the public benefit

(b) Ensure that over 60 per cent of the money you raise is spent directly on the charity’s cause

(c) Comply with your charity’s governing document and the law

(d) Act in your charity’s best interests

(e) Act with reasonable care and skill

14. Which of the following disqualifies you from being a trustee:

(a) Unspent conviction for an offence involving dishonesty or deception

(b) Bankrupt or formal arrangement with a creditor

(c) Disqualified as company director

(d) All of the above



13-14: You sound as if you have all the facts at your disposal – well done. Make sure you put them into practice, and don’t become complacent!

10-12: You are off to a good start, but might benefit from refreshing your skills and knowledge. Why not check out some of the events Trustees’ Week has to offer? And print off a copy of CC3 to keep yourself up-to-speed.

0-9: Could do better! You need to make sure you know what your responsibilities are, or you could be running yourself into some serious trouble. Sit down as soon as you can with a copy of CC3, and find some suitable trustee training.

1 (c) The others might be the trustees (or some of them), but not necessarily!

2 (a) Others may take a day-to-day lead on the finances, but the trustees are responsible for the money

3 (b) A key part of the trustees’ role is to question and challenge constructively, to ensure that they make good decisions

4 (d) Non-registered charities must still comply with charity law, and will find our guidance helpful

5 (b)There are currently no qualifications, exams or records of learning which qualify you to be a ‘fit and proper person’; you can discover what it means in HMRC’s guidance. http://bit.ly/1UUwqIK

6 (e) is true

7 (c) is true though it’s not the only thing to think about. Trustees must be eligible (see your governing document and CC3), and not have or create serious conflicts of interest that you will have to manage. It’s important that they are interested in your work and will be willing to give up their time.

8 (c) is true. Ensuring that your charity carries out its purposes for the public benefit is one of the key duties of the trustee; arguably (a) is also true.

9 (e) While many of the Queen’s household are active charity patrons, you do not have to do this.

10 (d) is not necessary. You will find our guidance a lot easier to understand.

11 (a) is ok and not a conflict. But b) c) and d) are all conflicts of interest and must be managed accordingly. Even though there is no benefit, (d) is still a conflict of interest – this is a conflict of loyalty.

12 (b) is the right answer; though it is probably best to talk to charity management before agreeing to do d).

13 (b) You must manage your charity’s resources responsibly, and be aware of the reputational impact of money spent on fundraising/administration, but there is not a restriction set out in law around the percentage you raise that must be spent directly on the charity’s cause.

14 (d) is true and this is not an exhaustive list. The Charities Act 2016 will introduce some new categories where you are automatically disqualified, although you may ask for a waiver.

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