Charity trustee FAQs
Generally speaking, all committee members are trustees
of a PTA, so what responsibilities do charity trustees have? Neal
Green, Senior Policy Advisor at the Charity Commission,
As chairperson, what legal duties do I need to comply
All members of the committee should know their six main
duties as charity trustees - these are explained in The Essential Trustee on the Charity
In practice, the chair may have more to do than other trustees:
making sure that committee meetings are properly organised and
minuted (the secretary has a role here too); ensuring that everyone
is fully informed and can take part in discussions that lead to
good decisions; encouraging everyone to turn up to meetings;
identifying the skills and experience the charity needs to run
effectively; recruiting committee members with these skills.
Who can become a trustee and how should they be
Anyone can be a trustee of a PTA provided they are over 18 and
are not legally disqualified. The reasons why someone might be
disqualified are explained in The Essential Trustee. For example,
those who have taken out an IVA, are undischarged bankrupt, have an
unspent conviction for an offence involving dishonesty or
deception, or are disqualified as a company director. Trustees must
be appointed in accordance with the rules set out in the charity's
governing document. Most trustees of a PTA must be elected from the
membership at the AGM.
I have taken over as chairperson, but can't find our governing
document - what should I do?
Many PTAs use the Parentkind model constitution. Check the
Charity Commission register to see whether your constitution has
been amended from the standard model or if you have something
different (such as a constitution for a Charitable Incorporated
Organisation). You should be able to get a copy by asking the
Charity Commission, particularly if your constitution is not the
standard Parentkind model. Members of Parentkind can get a copy of
the model document from them.
Do trustees need to undertake DBS checks?
Trustees are not legally required to have DBS checks, but as
your PTA role may bring you into contact with children we strongly
recommend that PTA trustees consider getting DBS checks.
What reporting requirements must we adhere to?
All registered charities must send some information to the
Charity Commission each year, but what you should send depends
on your constitution and income. The guide, Charity Reporting and
Accounting: The Essentials, explains the type of accounts you need
to prepare, getting them audited or examined, and what you
need to submit.
How many signatories are required for financial matters?
Requiring two unrelated signatories to authorise cheques is a
basic financial control. You should also make it a rule never to
sign blank cheques. In practice you may want to appoint more than
two authorised signatories in case one isn't available. For more
information on basic financial controls and management, see The
Essential Trustee. Check your governing document for any specific
As treasurer, should we have a written policy for how
money is given to the school, and should we ask for copies of
It's the whole committee, not just the treasurer, who is
responsible for managing the charity's funds and resources
responsibly. You must make sure the charity's assets are only used
to support or carry out its purposes. The committee should decide
what activities or equipment at the school it wants (and can
afford) to fund. Agree this with the school, get written receipts
for funds paid to the school, and take reasonable steps to ensure
that the school spends the money as agreed.
When it comes to paying expenses, what should or shouldn't be
Expenses must be reasonable and genuinely incurred in the course
of the charity's work, such as travel. It's up to the charity to
set its own expenses policy, but it's a good idea to encourage
people to claim. This saves any embarrassment and it doesn't make
trusteeship expensive for people who can't afford to be out of
How often should accounts be presented to the committee?
Have a financial update at every meeting unless the
committee decides that they need it less often.
The whole committee is responsible for the finances so they need
information presented in a way that is clear, accurate and everyone
can quickly understand.
Should we put together written policies on things such as
managing conflict, claiming expenses, code of conduct…?
It's a good idea to have policies on these things so everyone
knows what the 'rules' are. As a charity working with children, you
also need a safeguarding policy. 'Codes of conduct' sets out what
is expected of trustees and what kinds of behaviour are ok or not
ok. Agree a 'conflicts of interest (or loyalty) policy' to ensure
that you always: identify and declare conflicts of interest;
prevent conflicts of interest from affecting decisions; record
conflicts of interest and how they were dealt with.
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