Learn Your Duties and Liabilities as a Charity Trustee

April 14, 2016

Working as a charity trustee, a person who manages the administration of a charity, can be an intensely rewarding experience, providing opportunities for skill development, networking and helping the community. As a trustee, you are ultimately responsible for the affairs of the charity and for achieving its goals. Although most trustees are volunteers, the position is not without risk. Even when acting with good faith, you could be held personally liable for your business decisions.

Anyone, including senior management, directors, board members and committee members can be considered a trustee and subject to duties under charity laws. Just because your title or job description does not contain the word ‘trustee’ does not mean you are not considered one.

Before becoming a trustee, learn all you can about the charity and your job expectations. This includes reading the governing document (the main constitutional document governing the key aspects of the charity), annual reports, policies, accounts and knowing the charity’s legal structure. Once you become a trustee, you are responsible for duties including:


In addition to fulfilling your trustee duties, you may also be held personally liable for any debts or losses the charity incurs, depending on the charity’s legal structure and governing document. If you incur debt or liabilities totalling more than the charity’s assets, you may be responsible for covering the difference, even if the liabilities were properly incurred. You can help lower your personal liability by accomplishing the following:


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