What policies should a charity have? The charity policies required by UK law and Charity Commission E&W depends on your role and activities. This resource explains the most common policies and procedures charities need and guidance and links to sample charity policy templates you can use to create yours. It includes a list of all the charity policies and procedures you can download in Word format from within Charity Excellence and links to the Charity Commission guidance and rules relating to policies.
Charity trustees are subject, not only to the same laws and regulators, as other organisations, but also charity law and Charity Commission guidance and rules, or those of other charity regulators in Scotland and NI. Even small charities need policies to comply with Charity Commission guidance, ensure we obey the law, keep people safe from harm and manage money effectively. It is the responsibility of the trustees to ensure this happens. This resource provides advice on the key policies your charity should have.
You can download 40+ policy and procedure templates in Word format from the Charity Excellence. Register then login and ask the AI bunny what you need to do.
You can download a wide range of policy templates for charities from within Charity Excellence, or click through to the most popular ones that I've made available online.
You can download any of the policy templates for charities below in Word format by registering (it's free) and then logging in. Once logged in, click the in-system AI bunny icon, then his Policies button and tell him which policy you want. Watch this 3 min demo video. You can also ask him for a list of all the policy templates. The system will automatically make relevant policies available, as you score relevant questionnaires.
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I've also made available a number of sample charity policy templates available online.
|Charity Reserves - a guide and policy template
|Charity Risk Management - a guide, 3 step process & template for your policy and risk register
|Charity Due Diligence Checklist - donation, donors and partners checks and policies
|Conflict of Interest - a policy template, guidance and resources
|Charity Safeguarding - policy template, guidance and safeguarding resources
|Volunteer Management - policy and agreement guide and how to recruit, retain and manage volunteers
|Environmental Policy - a template and 50+ ideas
Ultimately, it is the trustee board that is responsible, not only for ensuring the charity has the right policies, but that these are being complied with consistently. That includes ensuring individual charity trustees are aware of their responsibilities and the board has any policies it needs to ensure it governs itself well.
The key Charity Commission guidance that all trustees must read and comply with is CC3a - Charity Trustee: What's Involved. Trustees have 6 main responsibilities: ensure your charity is carrying out its purposes for the public benefit. complies with your charity’s governing document and the law, act in your charity’s best interests, manage resources responsibly, act with reasonable care and skill and ensure your charity is accountable.
For practical advice on how to be a good trustee, read the Charity Excellence resource on 20 ways to be a good trustee.
The Charity Commission recognises the Charity Governance Code, but it's not part of its rules and regulations and it's not a requirement in UK law. All trustees should be aware of it and the Board should comply with it. You can find a short, simple explanation of the code and how to use it here.
The trustee Board's powers and limits on these are usually set out in detail in your constitution, or articles of association for a charitable company. Every trustee should be given a copy and should know what is in these. These tend to be in fairly opaque legal speak, so a talk through by the chair/CEO, or a short explanatory note to send is recommended.
I've found that the biggest problems on charity boards tend to be around behaviour, so I'd always recommend a Board Code of Conduct, or similar policy. If powers are delegated to committees or staff, I'd have these written down and issued, including limits and any caveats.
Trustees must act in the best interest of the charity at all times and any trustee who may not be able to do so must be excluded from discussions and this recorded in the minutes. 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. Managing conflicts of interest is very important, but most model constitutions cover this issue, so you may not need to have a separate policy for your charity board.
The purpose of our charity policies and procedures is to ensure that we comply with all of our regulatory and legal obligations and that the charity works really well. Just having lots of detailed policies means nothing and often leads to an ongoing process of redrafting and reviewing. The key is to not only identify the specific policies your charity needs, but to ensure that these work well.
The policies your charity should have depends on many factors, including not only UK law, charity law and Charity Commission guidance but also your role, activities and even your culture. This section looks at the key areas which will apply to most UK charities.
The Board ensures that we have effective policies and procedures, to meet our needs, and these are reviewed regularly, with key policies approved by the Board
Policy requirements are not only communicated to staff, but also others who may need to know this, such as volunteers, beneficiaries, contractors and the public.
Our organisational policies are clear, understandable and applied pragmatically to ensure these do not create unnecessary work or prevent us from getting the job done.
The law says that every organisation must have a policy for managing health and safety. This sets out your general approach to health and safety and explains how you will manage health and safety. It should clearly say who does what, when and how - here's the HSE guidance to writing one.
If you have five or more employees, you must write your policy down. If you have fewer you don't have to, but it is useful to do so. You must share the policy, and any changes to it, with your people.
The charity trustee/Management Committee needs to issue any underpinning Health & Safety at Work (H&SW) policies needed and to ensure that any risk assessments and/or training required is carried out, and any safety equipment or clothing needed is provided.
If you work with vulnerable people or children, you will need a safeguarding policy. Charity Commission guidance requires that it includes how you will:
I would add to this that:
You may wish to add any other requirements you may have if working with specific groups of people, such as children or older people.
You can download a safeguarding policy template and other safeguarding resources from the Charity Excellence People questionnaire.
You should have a whistleblowing (Public Disclosure Act) policy, with the whistleblowing contact details available to everyone.
If you process or handle food, it is an offence to supply food that is unsafe or harmful. Even if it's just a one-off event you need to ensure that those involved:
Staff/volunteers have been made aware of our HR policies, which are comprehensive, up-to-date and are applied fairly and consistently.
A written statement of employment must be given to staff and should either contain or refer to disciplinary rules and procedures. Many employers create a separate disciplinary procedure and a grievance procedure.
I would suggest that an equal opportunities and anti-harassment & bullying policies should be a must, in light of the abuse in the sector. Leave entitlement, travel expenses and pay policies are worth thinking about, as are a flexible working and a working from home policies. Acas has a selection of HR policy and other templates and also has a help line. There are some other policy templates on the NCVO website.
Note that volunteers are not staff/employees/workers, so I would suggest a volunteer policy and agreement to ensure our volunteers are managed, supported and recognised for their contribution to our work. There's a bit to this and it applies to most, so I wrote this Charity Excellence guide to managing volunteers. It includes what you need for a volunteer policy and agreement.
The trustees/management team should ensure that our HR procedures are applied in a consistent and fair way, and without avoiding addressing issues or unreasonably delaying the process.
Your basic financial policies will be in your statutory accounts, if you're large enough to prepare these. Most charities will have a finance policy, and most will have a reserves policy to ensure we maintain adequate free reserves to enable us to manage any reasonably foreseeable contingency. Your policy should set out how:
The accountants will tell you need an anti-fraud policy, but I don't think these really get read. However, I would always ensure that we had implemented systems and regular checks to safeguard cash and other assets, including in areas such as cash handling, banking, claiming expenses and online fraud
I would also suggest taking care around banking. Generally, only the Board may authorise the opening or closing of any bank, deposit or other account. There should not be a single person with access, substantial payments should require 2 signatures and the bank account must be reconciled regularly.
Individuals who require on-line banking access, hold budgets or have responsibility for handling cash, understand the importance of doing this correctly, and have been given appropriate guidance and/or on-the-job training.
There is an effective risk management policy and procedures, which the management team monitor to ensure these are implemented consistently across the organisation. This Charity Excellence guide gives you an introduction to risk management and a 3 step process to use to management risk.
Although not appreciated by many, charity trustees have specific responsibilities for fundraising. This CEF resources outlines what these are and what you need to do.
For due diligence and gift acceptance and refusal, use this CEF resource, or download the ethical fundraising and other policies from the Income questionnaire.
And this one if you need a grant making policy. It's not a legal requirement, but you will need one if you're applying for Charity Commission registration.
We have an up-to-date data protection policy, which is understood by everyone and consistently applied, to ensure data is safeguarded and managed correctly.
This can get horribly complicated, in some circumstances, but for most of us basically make sure that what you are doing adheres to the 8 data protection principles.
The ICO (Data Protection Regulator) has some very good, simple advice on writing a privacy notice, which includes a downloadable template in Word that you can use.
For social media/PR there can be risks around breaching consent, copyright and a number of laws relating to being abusive and there are too many trolls. Having a communications/social media policy makes a lot of sense.
We also need to create a clear, positive, consistent impression of who we are. Larger charities may have brand guidelines, house style and/or tone of voice, which are appropriate to their needs, but even small charities should be clear on what their key compelling messages are, whom their key stakeholders are and what the purpose of their communication. Usually everybody knows this, but often disagree with each other on what it is.
Larger charities often have an IT use policy, but everyone should make sure they have adequate cyber security (virus checker, firewall etc) and that data is being regularly and safely backed up, even if that's just the church fete plan and committee minutes on to a USB stick.
Listed below is the Charity Commission guidance that I am most frequently asked about, but this list is by no means exhaustive.
And the Charity Commission isn't the only relevant regulator. Others include HMRC, the Fundraising Regulator. There are also others that are relevant for charities in specific sectors, such as DFE, CQC and the Electoral Commission.
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I am not an accountant, nor a lawyer and no advice can be applicable to all organisations, in all circumstances, so this resource is no more than a guide to understanding. I've summarised the regulatory guidance and augmented this with my own experience and Internet research, but I am not competent to provide professional advice. I have included links to the source guidance to enable you to check this yourself and, if you think you might need professional advice, register, then login and use the Help Finder directory to find pro bono support. Everything is free.