In this blog, PM+M partner and charity sector specialist, Helen Clayton, considers how trustees of charities can assist during these unprecedented times to ensure sustainability of their organisations.
The charitable and not for profit sector is playing a critical role in supporting our country and its people through these challenging times, whether that via providing goods or services, or delivering physical or mental health support.
Sustainability of the sector therefore is critical, not to mention people’s job security and livelihoods and purpose.
My previous blog focused on cash flow and forecasting (click here to read), but today I will consider the role of trustees within the charity sector.
Communication – regularity and format – should not be underestimated at the current time. As a trustee myself, staying informed on a regular basis is providing peace of mind, as are the more regular finance committee and board meetings that we have put in place. This does not mean I am complacent however; it means I am informed and am able to perform my role responsibly.
Receiving timely information is also critical – monthly management accounts to understand profitability or otherwise, to understand the level of free reserves, restricted and unrestricted funding together with cash flow forecasts.
More so, the board are commonly hearing about operational decisions that may not ordinarily reach us in that level of detail. We welcome this information.
As a trustee, I would encourage you to consider your role, investment, time and what else you need to be able to fulfil your obligations during these strange times, which, let’s face it, are here to stay longer than we hoped and will therefore have a longer lasting impact on our organisations.
The trustees normally define the reserves policy to identify what can be spent freely. That policy may now be being tested as free reserves may no longer exist or be forecast to exist.
Therefore, again, being in receipt of timely information and forecasts will be critical in understanding the impact on reserves, your options available and any difficult decisions that may need to be made.
The Charities Commission has issued various guidance on this and I recommend that these are read by all trustees if they haven’t been already (click here to view).
Looking ahead twelve months to assess how meetings can and will work is important. Perhaps not all trustees have access to technology to allow full take up of virtual meetings and sharing of information by email.
As we’re currently still not able to visit each other’s homes, how can meetings work? Will they be quorate? How will an AGM work? Who will take minutes?
Considering all of this is also important to ensure that trustees can fulfil their duties. Some tasks may need more forward planning and time investment.
Get in touch
For further guidance on the various types of funding and support options that have emerged as a result of the current situation, visit our website’s coronavirus support hub (accessed here). I recommend that all trustees review these options to understand the best options for their organisation.
If you would like to discuss any of these recommendations, please contact me on 0161 641 8684 or via email using the button below.
We wish you every success in achieving sustainability in your organisation.