Charities can use the following words to set out the duties under Governance Standard 5 when appointing a new Responsible Person.

Dear [insert name of new Responsible Person],

Congratulations on your appointment to the governing body of [insert charity name].

In your role, you have a special opportunity to contribute to the work and life of [insert charity name]. Being a [board/committee] member can be challenging at times, but it can also be a rewarding way to help [insert charity name] achieve its charitable purpose.

As a member of the [board/committee] of a charity registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, you have duties and responsibilities that come with your role. You may also have other obligations and duties under to other government agencies or under other laws.

The ACNC Governance Standards set core, minimum governance standards that all charities must meet. Governance Standard 5 requires that charities take reasonable steps to make sure that the members of their governing body know and understand their legal duties and carry out their duties. These duties generally require you to be careful and conscientious in your role and to act with common sense and integrity.

The duties are:

  • To act with reasonable care and diligence. You must exercise your powers and duties with the care and diligence that a reasonable person would if they were in your place.
  • To act in good faith in the best interests of the charity and for a proper purpose. When acting as a board member you must make decisions that are in the best interest of the charity and to further its charitable purpose.
  • Not to improperly use information or position. Any special knowledge that you gain as a [board or committee member (insert whichever is applicable)] must only be used for the benefit of the charity and never to further personal or other interests. Similarly, you must not use your position to improperly gain an advantage for yourself or someone else, or cause detriment to the charity.
  • To disclose conflicts of interest. If your duty to act in the best interests of the charity is in conflict with (or may conflict with) your personal interests you must disclose this responsibly. [insert reference to any relevant conflict of interest policy/ procedure or requirement in governing documents]
  • To ensure that financial affairs are managed responsibly. Ensure that there are systems and processes in place that ensure that the charity’s resources are being effectively put towards the charity’s charitable purpose and are protected from misuse.
  • Not to allow the charity to operate while insolvent. You must ensure that the charity can pay its debts when they are due or will become due and that it does not continue to operate if it cannot pay its debts.

Knowing and carrying out your duties as a [board/committee] member helps [insert charity name] to carry out its charitable purpose and protects its resources against misuse. You can find more information about the duties of those who manage charities on the ACNC’s website (www.acnc.gov.au) or in the ACNC’s guide Governance for Good.

If you have any concerns about meeting these duties, talk to [me or insert name] or contact the ACNC for information. Remember that there are resources available and people who can help you to better understand and meet your duties.

Congratulations again on your appointment as a [board/committee] member of [insert charity name]. Thank you for donating your time and expertise.

Regards,

[insert name of signatory here: we suggest it should be chair/ president of charity ]