Trustees' Week 2018

Nov 08, 2018

Feargal McCormack, President of Chartered Accountants Ireland.

From 12 to the 18 November 2018, Chartered Accountants Ireland marks Trustees' Week to acknowledge the work of charity trustees. Chartered Accountants Ireland is pleased to add our voice to others involved and supporting the charity and not-for-profit sector, including The Charities Regulator and The Charities Commission for Northern Ireland. It also gives our profession the chance to recognise and express our gratitude to all those who volunteer their time as trustees across the island of Ireland.

The week ahead will see some fantastic initiatives from a number of organisations that will showcase the work of charity trustees. Foremost amongst these will be the Good Governance Awards in Dublin on 15 November, and the 2018 Leadership & Good Governance Awards takes place on 22 November in Stormont.

Also, this week the Institute notes and welcomes the launch of the Charities Governance Code by the Charities Regulator in the Republic of Ireland. The Code, available here, aims to be proportionate (therefore relevant for every charity operating in Ireland) and to facilitate the better administration, management and governance of charitable organisations.

It is important to recognise good governance and more importantly to recognise the people that are responsible for putting it into practice. Chartered Accountants Ireland led with our own Good Governance Conference 'Charities and not-for-profit boards – Inspiring ethics and governance' in Dublin and Belfast in September this year, when we had the opportunity to meet over 200 professionals working in, for, or as a trustee in this important sector.

Importance of Good Governance

In 2018, Chartered Accountants Ireland produced its own publication, 'Concise Guide of Ethics and Governance for the charity and not-for-profit sector', which is available to download from our Ethics Resource Centre here. One of the core messages of our guide is that a good governance framework in a charity or not-for-profit organisation promotes the organisations purpose while emphasising transparency and accountability. While laws, regulations and standards command basic governance requirements, it is in the organisation’s interests to ensure that their governance framework is effective and fit for purpose. When reflecting on the governance framework of your organisation, the guide advises that trustees and others have regard to the following:

  1. To ensure sufficient independent oversight, is there a clear delineation between the governance of the organisation, i.e. the trustees, and management of the organisation?
  2. Is there a clear and transparent organisational structure that is publically available, including short bio and background on trustees and senior management?
  3. Regardless of level of simplicity or complexity, are there transparent procedures in relation to selection and appointment of trustees?
  4. Is there some form of evaluation of trustees and senior management in the organisation in addition to evaluation of the overall board?
  5. Is there a mechanism for identifying, responding to and recording risks affecting the organisation?
  6. Are there mechanisms to ensure the flow of information to and from the board and adequate controls to ensure the integrity of this information?
  7. What are the internal and external financial reporting milestones and are there any independent audit or other assurance requirements?

Role of Chartered Accountants Ireland in the charity and not-for-profit sector

Members of our profession are held in high regard by charity and not-for-profit boards and evidence suggests that there is a demand for those with accounting and governance expertise.  Therefore, with Trustees' Week in mind, we encourage members with this expertise and an interest in the sector, to get involved and make a difference. Members of our profession have always been accountable and are held to a high standard in application of their professional knowledge. On that basis we are proud of our members who commit their time to promote good ethics and governance as trustee of a charity and not-for-profit organisation.

We would like to remind members that Chartered Accountants Ireland is here to support you in your role with various expert publications including books, guides, as well as toolkits used by accounting practices and advisors to the sector, in addition to courses and member support services such as enquiry helplines etc.

Finally, on behalf of Council, Chief Executive and staff, we congratulate all involved in Trustees' week and for the great work that takes place in this sector all year round.