Trustees regularly fail to understand their duties, says Charity Commission chief

As Trustees' Week gets under way, Sam Younger says it is important for trustees to receive regular training to help them run their organisations effectively

Charity Commission
Charity Commission

Trustees often fail to understand their duties and should receive regular training, according to Sam Younger, chief executive of the Charity Commission.

Younger said in a statement before Trustees’ Week, which runs from today until 10 November, that it was important for trustees to receive regular training to help them run their organisations effectively and in accordance with charity law. 

He said: "Poor governance is sadly something we see regularly in charities, as a result of trustees failing to understand their duties; concerns about poor governance or poor trusteeship featured in 597 of our 1,374 assessment cases in 2011/12."

He said that charity chairs should regularly assess skills gaps in their boards and identify what training was required. A survey of charity register applicants by the regulator found that a third did not offer support or training to trustees.

Alex Swallow, chief executive of the Small Charities Coalition, said in a statement that opportunities for training were extremely important for trustees of small charities because they had few or no staff and were having to adapt to a fast-changing environment in which skills needed to be continually topped up. He said that training and development opportunities were a key way to attract a diverse range of good people to small charity boards.

Swallow added: "Trustees' Week is a great opportunity to be able to champion the importance of training for trustees."

Trustees’ Week is run jointly by the commission and a range of charity sector organisations. More than 40 events are planned across the UK in support of it.

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