Principle 1 - Roles and responsibilities

Principle 1 - Roles and responsibilities


Strategy is about defining the direction your organisation wants to take and then allocating the resources and managing the risks to get the organisation to where it wants to be.  Organisations need to analyse their external environment and look at their existing strengths and weaknesses as part of this process.  

Positive working relationships

Positive working relationships within an organisation help to get things done effectively. Conflict in whatever form is distructive and detracts from a normal, productive, working environment.  Trustees need to ensure that they are giving leadership by modelling positive working relationships, as well as taking action to improve things when there are difficulties.  This is part of their duty in ensure their organisations are efectively managed.

For more information on managing conflict within committees.

Public Benefit

The Charities Act 2008 states that the purposes outlined in an organisation's governing document must be of benefit to the public for an organisation to be charitable. This is known as the public benefit requirement.

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland states that "Benefit is about the benefit flowing from the charity’s purposes. For a charity’s purposes to satisfy the benefit element of public benefit, that benefit must have three key features, it must:

Organisational Purposes

Organisations are established for all sorts of reasons.  Some are to raise money for a particular cause, some to deliver a service or some to represent the views of people from a particular geographic area etc.  Organisations should be very clear on the purpose for which they exist and these purposes should be clearly outlined in the governing document of the organisation.


Minutes should be detailed enough to give an accurate record of the attendance at the meeting, the content of the meeting and clearly follow the agenda.  Having good minutes prevents time being wasted by going over ground which has already been covered..  The secretary is responsible for taking minutes and ensuring they are circulated.

Skills Audit

Management committee/board members should have or ensure that they have access to the diverse range of skills, experience and knowledge needed to run the organisation effectively.

The responsibilities of the management committee vary widely and it is unlikely that each member will possess all the skills, experience and knowledge required. Indeed, some committee members may have been recruited specifically for their skills in a particular area. However, you should ensure that, as a collective, the committee holds the necessary expertise.

Finding and recruiting new board members

Keeping a management committee fresh, focused and effective has to involve regular renewal of its membership.  This enables the committee to periodically review what skills or attributes the committee requires to meet the changing challenges and demands of the organisation.  It can also help to strengthen the commitment and enthusiasm of individual committee members, by introducing mechanisms for limiting their term of office.

Recruiting new members onto a Management Committee is not as straightforward as recruiting for other voluntary roles:


Efficiently run committees are more likely to be able to secure and retain the commitment and enthusiasm of all their members. This has to make organising the committee's work effectively a high priority.

Well-organised committees have the following features:

Code of Conduct

It is useful when a new committee is elected to agree a code of conduct to underpin how committee members should behave towards one another both during and outside of meetings.  It is good to have a framework in place because it helps to safeguard relationships in times of difficulty and it underlines individual's commitment to the work of the organisation.  Use discussions regarding the Code of Conduct's content to reiterate what is expected from committee members. Ensure you agree procedures for dealing with a breach of the Code and establish who will enforce these.