Charity Commission Conflict Of Interest - Policy Template & Guidance For Charity Trustee Boards

The Charity Commission takes conflict of interest very seriously. This is a sample policy template and guidance for charity trustee boards, with links to other related Charity Commission and Charity Excellence resources.

Charity Commission Conflict of Interest Policy Guidance

The Charity Commission policy guidance identifies 2 common types of conflict of interest: financial conflicts and loyalty conflicts.  It requires charity trustees to follow its 3 step approach:

  • Identify a conflict of interest.
  • Deal with a conflict of interest.
  • Record a conflict of interest.

The sample policy below, explains the Commission's guidance and provides a template to create your own. 

Charity Commission CC3 (The Essential Trustee: What's Involved) is key guidance that all charity trustees must be aware of.  Trustees have 6 main responsibilities. The key one in managing conflicts of interest is the requirement to act in your charity's best interests, because you can't act in your charity's best interests, if you have a conflict. 

Your integrity may be such that you potentially could, but charity trustees must not only always act in their charity's best interest, but also be seen to do so.  Consequently, you must always manage and record any conflicts of interest. 

You may also be interested in these related Charity Excellence guides - 20 Ways To Be A Good Trustee and an introduction to using the Charity Governance Code

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CHARITY CONFLICT OF INTEREST POLICY TEMPLATE

You can copy and amend this conflict of interest policy template to meet the requirements of your own charity. 

Trustee Conflicts of Interest

The trustee board will make decisions based only on what’s best for the charity.  We do not allow personal interests, or the interests of people or organisations connected to board members, to influence these decisions.

There are 2 common types of conflict of interest: 

  • Financial conflicts - when a trustee, or person or organisation connected to them, could get money or something else of value from a trustee decision. This does not include the payment of expenses.
  • Loyalty conflicts - other reasons, a board member might not be able to make decisions that are best for the charity.

Generally, a potential conflict of interest will occur when a board member has a connection to another organisation or person that we have a financial, or other working arrangement with, either as:

  • Family – his or her partner, child etc or:
  • Organisation – as a trustee, board member, member of staff or similar.

Identifying Trustee Conflicts Of Interest

Conflict of interest is a standing item on all trustee board and committee agendas; the chairman will remind trustees at the start of each meeting that any interests must be declared.

A record of any professional or personal interest that may make it difficult for a trustee to fulfil their duties impartially, or may create an appearance of impropriety, with any item on the agenda for that day’s meeting is to be noted in the minutes of the meeting.  Specifically:

  • If a trustee is in any way, directly or indirectly, interested in a proposed transaction or arrangement with the organisation, s/he must declare the nature and extent of that interest to the other trustees
  • If a declaration of interest proves to be or becomes inaccurate or incomplete, a further declaration must be made
  • Any required declaration of interest must be made before the charity enters into the transaction or arrangement
  • A declaration is not required in relation to an interest of which the trustee is not aware or where the trustee is not aware of the transaction or arrangement in question. For this purpose a trustee is treated as being aware of matters of which s/he ought reasonably to be aware.

If a trustee states a conflict of interest s/he will normally be requested to leave the meeting while the relevant agenda item is discussed. 

Potential Trustee Conflicts of Interest

A charity may pay and offer other material benefits, to one or more of its trustees to provide services to the charity, where the trustee board reasonably believes it to be in the charity’s best interests to do so.  The services in question must be ones which the charity trustee provides in addition to carrying out normal trustee duties.  Any such proposal would be treated on a case for case basis and would only be approved subject to compliance with the Articles of Association and Charity Commission guidance.

Where an individual is not part of the decision making process, there is no direct conflict of interest.  However, where he/she has a relationship with the organisation, or individual trustee/director, the perception could arise that the trustees haven’t acted in the organisation’s best interests, because of this. 

Managing Trustee Conflicts of Interest

To manage these issues, the Board will ask themselves these kinds of questions: 

  • Is this the best use we might make of our limited resources?
  • If so, might anyone else be able to provide this service?
  • If there are others, in terms of cost, quality, availability etc, who would be the best provider?

Recording Charity Trustee Decisions

Conflicts of interest will be recorded in the minutes, together with the key points and decision(s) made, in sufficient detail to enable a reader to understand the issue and the basis on which the decision was made.

OTHER RESOURCES & GUIDANCE

Here are related Charity Commission and other resources. 

Charity Commission Conflict Of Interest Guidance

For an introduction to managing charity conflicts of interest, click here for a simple explanation and video.

Or for the detailed Charity Commission guidance - Conflicts of interest: a guide for charity trustees (CC29).   

Related Charity Commission policy:

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