County Commissioner Handbook



Trustees of a charity are responsible for ensuring that the charity is well run, solvent, and delivers the charitable outcomes for which the charity was set up.

When appointed all Trustees should be asked to read The Essential Trustee, published by The Charity Commission. (While different charity regulations apply in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the good practice in this document applies across Girlguiding.)

Trustees have three main responsibilities, which are:


Duty of prudence

Duty of care

Trustees may also be personally liable for any debts or losses that the charity faces as a result. This will depend on the circumstances and the type of governing document for the charity. However, personal liability of this kind is rare, and trustees who have followed the requirements will generally be protected.

The Essential Trustee, The Charity Commission.

Who can be a trustee?

Most people over 18 years of age can become Trustees (or 16 if your charity is a company of a charitable incorporated organisation), but a few are not eligible.

You cannot be a Trustee if you:

Prior to being appointed as a Trustee, a potential Trustee should be asked to sign a declaration that they are eligible. A template is available on the Charity Commission site.  It is also good practice for all Trustees to sign this on an annual basis, and it is suggested that this becomes a regular part of annual procedures, perhaps covering at the meeting which signs off the annual accounts.

Conflict of interest

A conflict of interest is any situation in which a Trustee’s personal interests or loyalties could, or could be seen to prevent them from making a decision only in the best interests of the charity.

Trustees should ensure that they declare any conflict of interest before the start of any meeting, so that the remaining Trustees can decide whether they need to leave the room for the item under discussion, or under what terms they may stay. In this case, they would be expected to abstain from any note. The conflict of interest should be noted in the minutes, along with the action taken.

This includes any paid work being undertaken for the charity by a family member.  It is always good practice to get a number of quotes for any work, and it would not be appropriate for a Trustee to be involved in the decision making in this situation.

Trustees cannot themselves benefit personally from being a Trustee – reasonable expenses can be covered, but they should not undertake any paid work at all.

For more detailed information, please see The Charity Commission or The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator websites.