Trustees: keeping a firm hand on the tiller

Posted on
9 Nov 2018
by Mairead O’Connor

Over 60,000 people in Ireland volunteer their time every year to serve as charity trustees. That’s roughly the capacity of the Aviva stadium!  This large group of committed and engaged citizens have ultimate responsibility and overall control of Ireland’s 10,000 charities. 

Governance refers to how your organisation is run, directed and controlled; in other words, it is about oversight. The trustees involved in the governance of a charity have overall responsibility for how the organisation operates today and what it achieves over the long-term.

Trustees take on a leadership role in the organisation, ensuring that the charity remains focused on its long-term vision and has the resources to meet its goals. The trustees have a responsibility to support and oversee the management, staff and volunteers involved in the charity. They also must ensure that the organisation meets its legal obligations and that its finances are properly managed. Ultimately the trustees need to ensure that the charity operates in a transparent and fair way.

The Charities Regulator has produced a very useful document that sets out the legal duties of charity trustees. It takes you through twelve key legal duties that are specific to charity trustees. You can read and download the document here: Guidance for Charity Trustees.

A question we are constantly asking ourselves is what can be done to support trustees. To that end, The Wheel launched the Charity Trustee Driver’s Licence. This short video course for members of The Wheel, helps to get trustees up to speed with the requirements of their role in a jargon-free, easy-to-complete online video course.

Trustees can watch the short videos when and where suits them and complete a series of quick quizzes to test their knowledge. Completing the module takes an hour and will introduce new trustees to their role and refresh experienced trustees’ knowledge of their legal duties.

Members of The Wheel can access this free resource at

Charity Trustees’ Week is organised by a steering committee which includes The Wheel, Boardmatch Ireland, Charities Institute Ireland, Carmichael Ireland, Charities Regulator, Dóchas and Volunteer Ireland.

Click here for the full programme of events and more information on Charity Trustees' Week.

Charities Trustees' Week