Chairs and Treasurers bodies agree need for trustees to increase financial skills

A recent joint event, as part of Trustees Week, bringing together members of the Association of Chairs and Honorary Treasurers Forum provided lively debate as to how the relationship between charity Chairs and Treasurers might be enriched.

A summary produced from the findings of the debate provided many tips on how to build a strong working relationship between the two named officers of charities.  It also identified the risks in relying too heavily on the financial skills of the Treasurer and allowing other trustees to abdicate from fiduciary responsibility.

The meeting suggested that the Chair and Treasurer need to spend time together to build their relationship and understand what each other wants and expects. It’s particularly important for Chair and Treasurer to have a shared understanding of the charity’s ambitions and its approach to risk.

Also importantly during induction, all trustees need to build competence in charity finances, especially the terminology, such as restricted, unrestricted and designated funds.  Without this knowledge trustees will not have the ability or confidence to be able to understand or challenge financial presentations.   It was felt that both the Chair and the Treasurer had responsibility to ensure that there was a culture within board meetings which allowed challenge and robust debate.

All attendees were in agreement that whilst finances were important and could be critical, board meetings needed to focus on the objects of the charity and its beneficiaries.  The Chair and Treasurer need to work together to ensure this holds true. 

The summary can be downloaded from:

Association of Chairs: https://www.associationofchairs.org.uk/

Honorary Treasurers Forum: http://www.honorarytreasurers.org.uk/

VoluntaryNews editor’s note: direct link to download ‘Enriching the relationship between charity Chairs and Treasurers’ from Honorary Treasurers site (pdf, 52KB, 5 pages).

Notes

Association of Chairs

The Association of Chairs supports Chairs of charities and non-profit organisations to lead their boards effectively and ensure delivery of the organisation’s mission. The Association produces resources designed specifically to support Chairs in this skilled and demanding role.  We run a range of events:  seminars, technical briefings, dinners and training for new Chairs, all focused on encouraging peer networking and learning.  Resources we have produced specifically for Chairs include A Chair’s Compass, a guide to the particular challenges of the role, and A Question of Balance, addressing the Chair-CEO relationship.

The Honorary Treasurers Forum

The Honorary Treasurers Forum is a membership organisation originally formed in 2004 to provide a source of information, research and knowledge for the Treasurers of charities large and small. It became a registered charity (No: 1118802) in 2007 and is the only organisation to focus specifically on the needs of the Honorary Treasurer.  The mission of the Forum is to benefit the voluntary and community sector by providing networking opportunities and resources to improve the effectiveness of existing Honorary Treasurers and to encourage more volunteers to take up this essential trustee role.

Forum meetings are held four times a year around a variety of current issues. Recent subjects have included how the Honorary Treasurer works with the Financial Director, an update on global economy and investment strategies and everything you need to know about fundraising and legacies.   The sessions feature key speakers from the third sector, and case studies from members provide powerful insight into different models of effective working.

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