Free Charity Trustee Code of Conduct Template

A UK charity trustee code of conduct template, with tips on making it work well and links to relevant Charity Commission guidance for trustees

Charity Trustee Code of Conduct Template

A charity trustee code of conduct template for charities to lay out your ethics and core values.  It also includes tips on how to create and communicate your trustee code of conduct, and make it work well. There isn't a Charity Commission code of conduct for trustees but I have included a link to relevant guidance from them, plus other trustee resources.

What is a Charity Trustee Code of Conduct?

A charity trustee code of conduct explains the standards of behaviour that we all expect from each other to ensure our charity is well run and everyone is kept safe.  It provides the framework to lead and to manage the culture in your charity.

Download Charity and Trustee Code of Conduct Templates

You can download example charity and trustee codes of conduct in Word format from within the Charity Excellence.  Register (everything is free), login, click the AI bunny icon and then his Policies button and tell him you want a charity volunteer or trustee code of conduct template.  There are 40+ charity policy templates.

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Charity Trustee Code of Conduct - Applicability

This charity code of conduct applies to all trustees of our charity.  Its requirements should be reflected in trustee induction and training, and other policies and procedures, agreements and contracts, as necessary.  Most importantly, it should be reflected in the way we work together and make decisions as a trustee board.

Charity Trustee Code of Conduct

Charity trustees are ultimately responsible for the charity.  As charity trustees collectively and individually, we will:

  • Act legally and properly - by acting with integrity, honesty, within the law and our governing document, and in the charity’s best interests at all times.
  • Create a safe space– in which everyone is encouraged and feels able to speak.
  • Positively challenge– each other, but avoid being confrontational - saying ‘no’, ‘that won’t work’.
    • Instead, we ask open questions that will help us work together to explore/test an idea, or suggestion - who, what, when and how, but not why, which can come across as accusatory).
  • Think, then speak– what can I say succinctly that will most help the Board?
  • Feel able to ask the questions that need to be– there is no elephant in the room or, if there is, we’re all working together to get it out.
  • Act strategically– by thinking externally and longer term.
  • Understand that operational delivery is the remit of the CEO by recognising that it’s not our role to manage operations, but to ensure these are led and managed well.
  • Focus on solutions– by talking about the past, only to learn from it, avoid talking about what we can’t do and, instead, focus on what we could do.
  • Welcome differing viewpoints respect each other’s right to hold a different opinion and recognise our own right to do so too.
  • Not make assumptions– about who someone is, but rather respond based on the facts/content of what he/she said.
  • All contribute- the contribution of the young, old, or those with lived experience is different to that of the professionals but isn't less than.
    • Everyone has something to give and something to learn.
    • And no one person is allowed to dominate the conversation to the exclusion of others.
  • Be slow to take offence – and quick to apologise, always.
  • Give permission– to everyone else to remind us when we inadvertently stray from the above.
  • Accept our responsibility – for ensuring that everyone is treated fairly, with respect and kept safe from harm.

How Do We Create a Trustee Code of Conduct?

If all you do is copy this code of conduct, approve it at a meeting and then file it all you'll get is a charity code of conduct on file.  The way people behave is far more about leadership and culture than policies.  Therefore, rather than simply using mine, it is far better to have a facilitated discussion with your trustees and volunteers and use this is a checklist of items to talk about in creating your own.

How Do We Communicate Our Trustee Code of Conduct?

Your trustee code of conduct applies to all trustees, so everyone needs to know about it, particularly those new to your charity.  It should form part of everyone's induction.  For example, including a copy in a welcome pack or induction briefing/training.  On an ongoing basis, it could be built into trustee job descriptions and, potentially, appraisal objectives.

How Do We Make a Charity Trustee Code of Conduct Work Well

The key to a trustee code of conduct is that it creates a framework but it is the leadership and culture in your charity that delivers it, or not.  It is not simply a policy or academic exercise.  Your trustees must model the behaviour you expect of others and make your expectations clear.  It is also important to cultivate an open, positive culture in which people feel able to speak up and speak out to ensure this is applied not only in trustee meetings but across your charity.

Charity Code of Conduct Template

We also have a charity code of conduct template for staff and volunteers.  We also have a simple guide on 20 ways to be a good trustee. and a simple guide to the UK Charity Governance Code - What is Governance & How To Do It Well.

Charity Trustee Conduct - Regulatory Guidance

There is no specific Charity Commission guidance on trustee conduct but it publishes a range of guidance for trustees.  If you need specific guidance, ask our AI Bunny and it'll find it for you.

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This Charity Trustee Code of Conduct Article Is Not Professional Advice

This charity trustee code of conduct article is for general interest only and does not constitute professional legal or financial advice.  I'm neither a lawyer, nor an accountant, so not able to provide this, and I cannot write guidance that covers every charity or eventuality.  I have included links to relevant regulatory guidance, which you must check to ensure that whatever you create reflects correctly your charity’s needs and your obligations.

In using this resource, you accept that I have no responsibility whatsoever from any harm, loss or other detriment that may arise from your use of my work.  If you need professional advice, you must seek this from someone else. To do so, register, then login and use the Help Finder directory to find pro bono support. Everything is free.

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