Members of a charity have a responsibility to act in their organisation’s best interests in order to help achieve its goals. In order to do that consistently and successfully, members must make well-informed decisions based on all available relevant information.
One key piece of information to consider before making a decision is whether there would be any conflicts of interest or loyalty as a result. A conflict could arise if charity trustees or members, or anyone closely associated with them, does the following:
- Receives any type of payment or compensation from the charity
- Makes a loan to or receives a loan from the charity
- Enters into any type of contract with the charity
- Uses the charity’s services for his or her own personal or professional purposes
To ensure that each decision being made is in the best interest of the charity and not coloured by a conflict of interest or loyalty, consider developing a conflict of interest policy. The policy should outline the process for dealing with the following issues:
- When and how a member must disclose a potential conflict
- How a potential conflict will be handled by the board of trustees
- The formation of a committee or forum that promotes transparency within the organisation
- A public relations strategy for a conflict if it was not identified soon enough
For more guidance on your responsibilities as a member of a charity, visit www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-essential-trustee-what-you-need-to-know-cc3.