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Charity Commission Updated Guidance on ‘Managing Faith Charities as Trustees’

Photo of Lourens Du Plessis Lourens du Plessis
2 min

The Charity Commission has recently updated their guidance for the trustees of faith charities. This guidance seeks to help trustees with the particular complexities of their roles – around governance structures (which have to overlap and interact with areas like church leadership), what constitutes charitable activities and more.

At Stewardship, we also recognise the specific nuances involved in the faith charity trustees’ roles and want to encourage trustees of churches and Christian charities to make sure they’re familiar with the Charity Commission’s thinking in this area. We have a number of resources related to this topic, links to which are found below.

The guidance doesn’t contain any particularly new information, but it is a helpful reminder on key topics, such as why churches are seen as charities in the eyes of the law, things to keep in mind in appointing and paying trustees (if applicable), responsibilities to report matters to the Charity Commission (such as any serious incidents), basic financial controls (e.g. cash collections, bank reconciliations and electronic payments) and making international payments. It also looks at the key issues of compiling and filing annual reports and accounts and the trustees’ responsibilities for those documents.

Importantly, it highlights what the trustees should do in relation to safeguarding and considers the sensitive area of inviting potentially controversial speakers, as well as their legal responsibilities for employing people.

The guidance is largely reiterating information already available to trustees, but it is helpful as a short checklist for faith charity trustees to run through, and check if any of the topics have slipped off their radar. It shouldn’t take long and might be worth consideration as an agenda item at your next trustees’ meeting.

Links:

Managing Faith Charities as Trustees - GOV.UK

Guide to churches on spiritual leaders and trustees

Trustees: Appointment, Powers, Duties and Responsibilities

What are the Financial and Reporting Responsibilities for Trustees?

Raising the Standard: Transforming the Culture of Money in Church

Charity Structure and Governance: An Overview

Financial Controls in Churches and Small Charities

Charity FAQ series: Can a charity...?

Charity FAQ series: Can I Pay my Church or Charity Trustees?

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Written by

Lourens du Plessis

Lourens leads the Accounts Examination Services Team who guide and strengthen churches and Christian charities with their governance and finances. He joined Stewardship in 2020 and brings with him a wealth of experience in both the charity and commercial sectors.

Before joining Stewardship he worked for an international church developing governance and financial stewardship for various ministries. Prior to that Lourens had a senior role at a Big Four firm in the City, advising international investment banks. He is a qualified Chartered Accountant and has a postgraduate degree in Theology.

Lourens grew up in South Africa, but has spent the majority of his working life in London.  He is a member of the International Presbyterian Church in Ealing. He is also a trustee of a number of other churches and charities, including a new pregnancy counselling centre, and he’s involved in initiatives to help Christians better integrate their faith and work.

Lourens supports causes which encourage bringing the gospel to people in his neighbourhood and to the ends of the earth, and particularly supporting persecuted Christians around the world.

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