NCVO Good Trustee Guide

We were delighted to sponsor the recent NCVO publication of the Good Trustee Guide, which provides comprehensive information about a trustee’s role, and guidance on developing an effective trustee board.

At the launch event Sarah Atkinson, the Charity Commission’s Director of Policy, welcomed the Guide, saying that the events over the summer highlighted the fact that trustees must be more than ‘glorified cheerleaders’ and must combine the responsibilities of being guardians of their charity’s mission with asking the difficult questions.

The Guide is timely in that it reflects the updated Charity Commission guidance, ‘The Essential Trustee’ and Sarah praised the fact that the Guide does more than reframe the guidance, improving it with practical tips.


1. Set and maintain vision, mission and values

The trustee board is responsible for establishing the essential purpose of the charity as set out in the objects of its governing document. The board is also responsible for guarding the ethos and values of the charity.

2. Develop strategy

Together, the trustees (and chief executive where employed) should develop a long-term strategy. Meeting agendas need to reflect the key points of the strategy in order to keep the organisation on track.

3. Establish and monitor policies

The trustee board creates a wide range of policies to govern organisational activity. These may include human resources, financial controls, safeguarding, risk management, volunteer management and selection of beneficiaries.

4. Ensure compliance with the governing document

The governing document is the rulebook for the charity, and the trustees must ensure it is followed. In particular, the charity’s activities must comply with the charitable objects in the governing document.

5. Ensure accountability

The trustees should ensure that the charity fulfils its legal requirements to be accountable. This will include publishing annual reports and accounts. The charity should also be accountable to other groups that are sometimes known as stakeholders: donors, beneficiaries, staff, volunteers and the general public.

6. Ensure compliance with the law

Trustees are responsible for checking that all the charity’s activities are legal.

7. Maintain proper fiscal oversight

Trustees are responsible for effectively managing the charity’s resources and funding so it can meet its charitable objects. The trustee board secures sufficient resources to fulfil the mission; monitors spending in the best interests of the charity; approves the annual financial statement and budget; protects the charity against liability by providing insurance; seeks to manage risk for the charity; ensures compliance with the law.

8. Respect the role of staff/volunteers

The trustee board recognises and respects the domain of staff and/or volunteer responsibility. It also creates policy to guide staff and/or volunteer activities and safeguard the interests of the charity.

9. Maintain effective board performance

The board keeps its own house in order. It engages in productive meetings, effective committees with adequate resources, development activities and regular reviews of its role. The board is also responsible for overseeing trustee board recruitment.

10. Promote the organisation

Through their own behaviour, their governance oversight and their activities on behalf of the charity, trustees enhance and protect the reputation of their charity. They are good ambassadors for the charity.

Where staff are employed:

11. Set up employment procedures

The trustee board creates comprehensive, fair and legal personnel policies. These protect the charity and those who work for it. They cover recruitment, support, appraisal, remuneration and discipline.

12. Select and support the chief executive

If necessary, the trustee board creates policy covering the employment of a chief executive. It also selects and supports the chief executive and reviews their performance.



The full version of the report is available at a cost of £30 for non-members and £21 for members via the NCVO website or a summarised version can be downloaded free of charge, below:

Summary report

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Order printed copy

Full report

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The opinions contained herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the house view. This document is intended to be for information purposes only. The material is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument. The material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, accounting, legal or tax advice, or investment recommendations. Information herein is believed to be reliable but Cazenove Capital does not warrant its completeness or accuracy. No responsibility can be accepted for errors of fact or opinion. This does not exclude or restrict any duty or liability that Cazenove Capital has to its customers under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (as amended from time to time) or any other regulatory system. Cazenove Capital is part of the Schroder Group and a trading name of Schroder & Co. Registered Office at 1 London Wall Place, London EC2Y 5AU. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. For your security, communications may be taped and monitored. 

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