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Many trustees unaware of their responsibility for basic duties, says regulator

13 Oct 2022 News

Charity Commission research suggests some trustees are not aware of their individual and collective responsibilities, the regulator has said.

Speaking at the Commission’s AGM yesterday, chief executive Helen Stephenson said the regulator aims to tackle this through its new online service.

The regulator plans to write to all registered charities over the next month, urging their main contacts to sign up to the service.

Commission aims to ‘engage one-on-one with trustees’

Stephenson said the Commission knows from its research that many trustees “don’t realise that they collectively and individually are responsible for basic duties” and this online service should help outline that.

This service, announced earlier this year, will give an overview of the trustee's charities and services. There will be a personal login which allows trustees to “take appropriate personal responsibility for shared duties” such as filing information on time.

Stephenson said “we want to move to a place where we are engaging one to one with individual trustees” and want to ensure the regulator engage with them “in a more supportive, proactive, meaningful relationship”.

Stephenson said this begins with this new service, which in time will allow every trustee to log into the Commission services directly and individually.

Trustees will have access to a personal inbox, allowing them to see messages about the Commission’s digital service in one place.

Stephenson said she hopes this “small but significant” change will help trustees in meeting those duties.

The chief executive added the service “will give trustees a better sense of agency ensuring that all the right people have access to their behind the scenes information about their charities”.

‘Gradual process’

Starting in the next month, the regulator will be writing to all registered charities, and Stephenson urged all main contacts to make sure their information is up to date and look out for an email.

When the main contacts are on board, and the system is live, the Commission will begin the process of inviting individual trustees.

Stephenson said she recognised this will be a “gradual process” as this may be a “significant shift” for some, and trustees are often busy volunteers.

The chief executive said this change was about building in more functionality so “transform our ability to reach individual trustees with relevant messages”.

During the questions at the end of her speech, Stephenson confirmed that this was not compulsory but she encouraged people to sign up.

“We hope it is relevant, so it is not compulsory,” she said.

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