When did you last read your Governing Document? Do you know where it is?
Your Governing Document could also be called your Constitution, Articles of Association or even your Trust Deed. In effect, it’s the Rulebook for your Charity.
It should cover anything anyone would want to know about your Charity:
- what you do
- how you do it
- the way you appoint Trustees
- what their powers are (and the limitations on those powers)
- how to call meetings etc.
Familiarise yourself with the Governing Document
All new Trustees should be given a copy and asked to make sure they are very familiar with all of these things.
Needless to say, it should be readily available and consulted. Yet I know from my own experience that many Trustee Boards don’t keep it up to date and in some extreme cases it hasn’t been updated for many years. One case I know of, the activities of the Charity had changed quite considerably since it had last been brought up to date.
Trustees are responsible for making sure the Charity follows its rules and procedures. Consequently they cannot be certain the Charity is doing this if the Governing Document is not regularly reviewed and updated. The Charity Commission is well aware that there are often failures of governance in this area.
When did you last review yours?
I recommend a review is scheduled as a formal item on a Trustee Meeting agenda every 6 months. During the intervening months, the Trustees should ensure they are aware of any issues or changes that may warrant it being updated more frequently.