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Governing your organisation

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The key things trustees need to consider in the governance of their voluntary organisation in light of the covid-19 pandemic.

This page includes links to government guidance, and practical suggestions to help trustees lead their voluntary organisation effectively. This page is primarily aimed at trustees and senior leaders, be they paid staff or volunteers.  

Run meetings

Meeting size

      Hosting virtual meetings 

      • The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 means that if you are a charitable company or a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO),you can host your AGM or other members’ meetings (not trustee/director meetings) online, even if this is not authorised by your governing document. These relaxations apply until 30 March 2021.
      • You must make sure that the decision to use these provisions is recorded in the minutes and that all other meeting requirements are met. See Bates Wells’ guidance on the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020.
      • For other types of meetings or any other type of charity, you should check whether your governing document allows you to hold meetings online or by telephone.
      • Generally, if there is no such clause in your governing document and you decide to hold meetings online or by telephone, the Charity Commission will understand. You should record this decision and that you have done this to demonstrate good governance.  Read the Charity Commission guidance on holding meetings online or by telephone 
      • An alternative may be to amend your governing document to formally allow meetings to be held in this way.  Read the government guidance on how to make changes to your charity’s governing document.

      Postpone, adjourn or cancel meetings

      • If you need to postpone, adjourn or cancel your AGM or other meetings as a result of covid-19, you need to make sure that you follow any rules in your charity’s governing document that allow for postponement, adjournment or cancellation. 
      • If there are no rules in your governing document, but you decide that this is still the best course of action for your charity, you should record the reasons for this decision to demonstrate good governance. For further information see the Charity Commission guidance on postponing or cancelling meetings  
      • The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 allowed AGMs to be postponed until 30 March 2021.  

      Making decisions 

      Your trustee duties 

      • At this time, trustees will be facing difficult decisions.  There probably won’t be one right decision but a number of reasonable ones.  
      • When making decisions, you should record the decision and how it was reached.
      • When making decisions as a trustee, you must: 

      Make good decisions

      Report a serious incident 

      Manage board dynamics 

      • The behaviour, culture and overall performance of your board is critical to your charity’s success. This is clearly outlined in the principle of board effectiveness in the  Charity Governance Code 
      • During times of uncertainty and increased anxiety, board dynamics may become more difficult to manage and relationships between individual trustees may deteriorate.  
      • To help manage this, here are some good practice suggestions around building good board relationships:

      Financial governance and solvency

      Financial governance 

      Financial reporting 

      • The Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) – making body has published guidance for trustees and those who prepare charity accounts looking at the potential impact of the control measures to contain covid-19 on financial reporting by charities
      • In your Trustees Annual Report additional disclosure around the impacts of Covid-19 is likely to be required.  
      • A fall in the valuation of investments may have an effect on the valuation of your defined pension benefit schemes.  
      • The financial reporting ramifications from investments and pensions should be reflected in the financial statements and fully explained in your Trustees Annual Report. 
      • Any disclosure on significant judgements and estimates will need to be detailed and updated.  
      • Any changes in underlying assumptions and sources of estimation uncertainty will need to be explained.  
      • You will need to consider your going concern basis and any associated material uncertainties.  This may have an impact on the: 

      Facing financial difficulty 

      Consider merger or collaboration 

      Check for and manage potential insolvency 

      • There is no statutory definition of ‘insolvent.’  
      • In practice there are two separate tests for insolvency.  Failure of either might be an indication of insolvency

      Manage insolvency and potential closure 

      Page last edited Jan 11, 2021

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