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Refresh your knowledge as a charity trustee

Written by: Kristina Kopic, Head of Charity and Voluntary Sector, ICAEW
Published on: 25 Jan 2023

Whether you have been a trustee for decades or are thinking of taking on a board role for the first time, it’s important that you understand the legal responsibilities of your role and keep up to date with developments.

What exactly are your responsibilities as a trustee?

Charity trustees share ultimate responsibility for governing a charity and directing how it is managed and run. This may sound daunting but there’s plenty of great guidance available. To get you started, I recommend the Charity Commission’s guidance The Essential Trustee and the Commission’s 5-minute guides for trustees which explain the basics of:

  • financial oversight
  • achieving your charity’s purposes
  • good decision making
  • managing conflicts of interest
  • safeguarding responsibilities
  • what to file with the Commission and the support available

Find them at

Becoming an effective trustee

If you know the basics and want to have a more in-depth and immersive learning experience, you can access the ICAEW trustee training free of charge. This will also give you the opportunity to evidence your learning, as we award a certificate on successful completion of the course assessment (optional). The training includes case studies and reflection exercises, and we encourage you to get the whole board involved in sharing their learnings.

A good induction makes for a successful start

If you are joining a new board, don’t forget to ask about the induction process that you will receive to help you settle in the role. This should include receiving a welcome pack of information, including the charity’s annual accounts and a copy of the charity’s governing document, which provides clarity over the boundaries in which the charity can legally operate. Ask if the charity offers trustee indemnity insurance, as that will help manage your risk.

How to keep your knowledge up to date

ICAEW’s Charity Community helps you stay up to date with vital updates on accounting, governance, tax and regulatory developments to support you in your trustee journey. Join to receive regular e-newsletters and invites to free webinars and events. We also have a LinkedIn group to help you connect with like-minded members. Join us there.

Finally, we would like to hear about your trustee experience and learn how we can best support you in the role. You can contact me by email or connect with me on LinkedIn. I look forward to hearing from you!