Trustees rely on each other for help and rarely access regulator support, survey finds

Trustees are relying on fellow trustees and colleagues for help but are rarely seeking support from the Charity Commission, other charities directly or advisory bodies, a survey has found.

Trustees were asked who they turned to if they felt unsure about something in their role.

This found that almost half (46%) look to colleagues or another trustee for help ‘several times a year’.

Meanwhile, just one in ten trustees turn to the Charity Commission, another charity or an advisory body for support as regularly.

This comes despite trustees being “mostly aware that there is help and guidance available on the Commission’s website”, says the survey, which has been carried out by Yonder and published by the Charity Commission.

Commission advice includes the regulator’s ‘5 minute guides for charity trustees', on issues such as charity finances, managing conflicts of interest and decision making.

Trustees surveyed had seen such advice from the regulator, but mostly at the start of their trusteeship and “most do not use guidance regularly”.

“Other common sources of help and guidance are fellow trustees or charities of a similar nature,” says the report.

“This is particularly applicable for trustees of smaller charities looking to learn from shared experience. Colleagues or specialised organisations are seen to offer more practical or personalised help than can be found in Commission guidance.”

One respondent said: “The Charity Commission website and the material made available was very useful in guiding us through the process of [applying to be a charity]. The majority of stuff however isn’t applicable to us because we’re so small.”

Another said: “I certainly would have used the guidance when I joined, but not since.”

The trustees’ survey also looked at the impact of Covid-19 on charities and their organisation. It found that just under a quarter of charities had used reserves to continue to operate.

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