1. Making sure the organisation understands and complies with all the legal requirements and regulations that apply to it
Which Laws Might Apply
It is impossible to give a comprehensive list of all the different laws that can apply to voluntary organisations. However, many of the most common ones are covered in the Voluntary Sector Legal Handbook (currently in its 3rd edition) (VSLH3), so it’s a good place to start.
VSLH3 is published by Directory of Social Change (DSC). There’s a ‘Look Inside’ option on the DSC website publications page (‘Law’ section) which allows you to see the first few pages including the contents list, at www.dsc.org.uk/Publications.
It’s a large book, costing £60 at time of writing, so smaller organisations that want to look in more detail may find it best to ask their local library or infrastructure organisation if there’s a copy they can refer to.
Keeping up to date
Sandy Adirondack’s Legal Update service provides an update on many of the latest legal changes relevant to voluntary organisations, and is linked to VSLH3 (above). Sign up at the website www.sandy-a.co.uk/legal.htm
The Charity Commission’s guidance ‘Managing Charity Assets and Resources’ (CC25) gives information covering many different aspects of asset management.
It can be downloaded from the Commission’s Guidance page under ‘Charity Requirements and Guidance’ / ‘View All Guidance’ on the Commission’s website www.charity-commission.gov.uk.
2. Setting good internal financial management controls and reviewing them regularly
CASH (Community Accountancy Self-Help) offers a wide range of financial management factsheets, including one on Financial Controls with a model policy. This can be downloaded from the ‘CASHFACTS’ section of the CASH website www.cash-online.org.uk/
The Charity Commission’s guidance ‘Internal Financial Controls for Charities’ (CC8) gives more detailed information on financial controls in different areas. It can be downloaded from the Commission’s Guidance page under ‘Charity Requirements and Guidance’ / ‘View All Guidance’ on the Commission’s website www.charity-commission.gov.uk.
Activity: Employed or Self-Employed? – Make Sure You Know!
This exercise is for organisations who pay people on a casual basis, who have one or two staff, or who are thinking about taking on staff for the first time. It’s based on a real-life scenario that shows how important it is to get the right advice, use the right procedures and keep records. If you are thinking of taking on staff, make sure you find out everything you need to know before you start:
3. Setting good internal policies and procedures and reviewing them regularly
An introduction to the most common policies that small organisations need.
4. Regularly identifying the major risks the organisation faces, reviewing them, and putting procedures in place to manage them
The Charity Commission has published information on risk management especially for smaller charities. It contains a basic explanation of how to assess risk and where common risks arise, and also a list of places to find information that will help you manage common risks.
This information can be found on their website www.charity-commission.gov.uk in the ‘Charity Requirements and Guidance’ / ‘Specialist Guidance’ / ‘Small Charities’ section of their website, headed ‘Avoiding Problems in Running Your Charity (risk management)’.
Activity: Carrying Out a Basic Risk Assessment
A resource which can be used alongside the Charity Commission information:
The Charity Commission’s guidance ‘Charities and Risk Management’ (CC26) gives more detailed information on risk assessment and management. Annex 2 of the publication lists different places that risk can arise from and examples of ways to manage those risks. It can be downloaded from the Commission’s Guidance page under ‘Charity Requirements and Guidance’ on the Commission’s website www.charity-commission.gov.uk.
5. Properly defining and supervising any delegation
Activity: Delegation – Are We In Control?
A simple set of questions to help board members think through how and what they delegate.