This article was originally published in Charity Times and can be accessed in the August 2021 Digital Edition here.
Trustees are more inclined to rely on fellow trustees and colleagues for help, rarely seeking support from the Charity Commission and other advisory bodies, a recent survey has revealed.
The survey, carried out by Yonder and published by the Charity Commission found that almost half (46%) look to colleagues or another trustee for help ‘several times a year’ whilst only one in ten trustees turn to the Charity Commission, another charity or advisory body for support just as regularly. But what is preventing trustees from seeking the support of sector regulators?
It’s thought that some trustees may feel apprehensive about going to a regulator in fear that it will highlight an issue, prompting the regulator to open an investigation if anything is wrong.
Paul Ridout, partner in the charity arm of Hunters Law believes that if trustees are scared about going to the regulator, then “the person concerned may not really understand their legal obligations and responsibilities as a charity trustee.” In his experience, it’s not so much fear of the regulator that keep trustees back, it’s the perception that it won’t be easy to get the specific answer they’re looking for.
He points out that some commentators have, in the past, warned trustees not to ask the commission for advice, for fear that it might lead to an investigation, “but most trustees these days know that the commission’s main regulatory tool is providing guidance to help trustees comply with their duties”.