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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 Charity Commission understands that covid-19 continues to have a major impact on trustees deciding if and how they can hold meetings.
      • When considering hosting a meeting online or by telephone, you should check whether your organisation’s governing document allows you to do so.
      • If there is no clause in the governing document allowing you to do so, one option is to see if the trustees can amend the governing document to facilitate changes to how and when meetings are held. Read the government guidance on how to make changes to your charity’s governing document.
      • Generally, if there is no such clause in the 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.
      • This is particularly important as the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 which permitted charitable companies and CIOs to hold AGMs and other members' meetings online regardless of their governing document, ended on 30 March 2021.
      • The Chartered Governance Institute has developed practical guidance for charities on how to approach your first virtual or hybrid AGM.

      Postpone, adjourn or cancel meetings

      • If you need to postpone, adjourn or cancel your organisation’s AGM or other meetings as a result of covid-19, you need to make sure that you follow any rules in your organisation’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 organisation, 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.

      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 do the following. 

      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 on 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 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 if:

      Manage insolvency and potential closure

      Page last edited May 25, 2021

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