The role of the chair is to lead the board to enable it to fulfil its purpose. It will involve planning and preparing the agenda for meetings and then chairing those meetings. Without a chair it will be difficult to ensure that the charity is well governed and is operating in line with the articles and best practice.

The charity commission have a recommended job description for a chair, the full details can be found here.

It is fair to say that many of the charities that are investigated by the Charity Commission are as a result of poor governance. Most recently the Commission has published its review of The Spiritualist Association of Great Britain. The Commission inquiry was concerned with the disposal of charity property and whether there had been any mismanagement or misconduct by the trustees. You can view the report  here.

When the Charity Commission undertake a review or investigation, one of the key documents they use is – Hallmarks of an effective charity CC10. This document has 6 hallmarks:

  • Clear about its purpose and direction
  • A strong board
  • Fit for purpose
  • Learning and improving
  • Financially sound and prudent
  • Accountable and transparent

Looking at the second hallmark, a strong board, the guidance says:

“An effective charity is run by a clearly identifiable board or trustee body that has the right balance of skills and experience, acts in the best interests of the charity and its beneficiaries, understands its responsibilities and has systems in place to exercise them properly.”

It also states:

“has a clear understanding of the respective roles of the trustee body and staff with role descriptions for trustees and charity officers (such as the Chair and Treasurer)”

This indicates there is a clear expectation that there will be a chair and that they will have the right skills to do the job.

The Charity Commission guidance CC3 recommends the following as best practice:

“The role of the chair may vary depending on the charity’s circumstances. The chair usually:

  • helps plan and run trustee meetings (and in a membership charity, members’ meetings)
  • takes the lead on ensuring that meetings are properly run and recorded
  • takes the lead on ensuring that trustees comply with their duties and the charity is well governed
  • might have a second or casting vote if a vote on a trustees’ decision is tied, but only if this is specified in the charity’s governing document
  • may act as a spokesperson for the charity
  • acts as a link between trustees and staff
  • line manages the chief executive on behalf of the trustees”

If you are affected by the matters discussed above, or if you would like any further information please contact us.

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