The Charity Commission has overhauled its guidance to trustees to ensure they “get to grips” with their financial responsibilities.
The regulator’s Charity finances: trustee essentials guidance has been refreshed to make it more accessible and readable, in a bid to ensure trustees are better placed to protect their charity’s assets and resources.
The revamp was announced by the Charity Commission chief executive Paula Sussex at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales’ annual dinner in London.
She said: “Robust financial management is vital to ensure that charities are able to meet the needs of their beneficiaries and also to increase public trust and confidence in the charitable sector.
“We’ve seen in our casework that weak financial governance can be extremely destabilising for charities, affect their ability to operate, and leave them vulnerable to fraud and abuse.
“It is vital that trustees are familiar with the charity’s governing document, understand the finances, ensure control and procedures are in place and work, and ask the right - and sometimes difficult - questions.”
She added that the updating of its guidance was necessary due to time constraints facing many trustees and hoped it would act “as the go to financial publication that trustees and charity staff can refer to, to address any knowledge gaps or get assurances on whether they are doing the right thing”.
Sussex also called on accountants and charity advisors to help “raise trustees’ game” in terms of charity governance and financial management.
Caron Bradshaw, chief executive of the Charity Finance Group, backs this collaborative approach.
“Accountants and auditors have a critical role to play. Financial professionals and charities must keep working together to ensure that our sector has the skills and support they need to meet future challenges,” she said.
Issues covered in Charity finances: trustees essentials include internal financial controls, charity reserves and managing staff and volunteers.
The regulator is also carrying out a wider review on how it supports trustees with their duties.