The Charity Commission is urging people who are involved with running charities to check whether they are trustees and says that many do not actually realise they are.
The first article in the latest edition of CC News, the regulator’s quarterly newsletter for trustees and their advisers, has the headline: "Help run a charity but don’t think you’re a trustee? Read on...".
It says that although trustees and boards might have different names at different charities, they are all legally the same thing. "No matter what term the charity’s governing document uses, you are legally a trustee if you are part of the group of people with overall responsibility for overseeing and leading the charity and directing how it is run," it says.
"We are concerned that too many people serving on trustee bodies don’t realise they are trustees. As such, they don’t realise they must comply with charity law or that our guidance applies to them. Check what your governing document says is the ultimate decision-making body in your charity.
"All properly appointed members of that body are charity trustees in law. You can’t opt to have the power without the responsibility, so you can’t pick and choose who is a trustee. If you discover you are a trustee, take time to read some of our core guidance, and make sure you understand your role going forward."
Last year the commission said it was attempting to widen distribution of the newsletter so it would reach all trustees, rather than just each charity’s named contact.