What is a Governing Document?

Charity Governing Document image

A question we often get asked is in theory a simple one to answer - namely “What is a charity governing document?”

The rule book

Fortunately, it also has, for the main, a simple answer - a set of rules governing the way you run your charity. It is often also called a Constitution for reference.

They will include the power and purpose behind your charity, as well as other matters such as how many trustees you will have, how they are appointed or elected, how to give notice of meetings, as well as a set of rules on how to close the charity.

Charities are required by law to comply with their governing document, which means that:

  • the activities remain within the objects set out in the governing document
  • the trustee body is legal and properly constituted
  • any new activities are permitted within the objects
  • trustees have a sound knowledge and understanding of the governing document.

(At this point we’ll make a plug to use Governance360 if you are currently or about to become a Charity Trustee – since the last point in particular is one of main aims, ensuring that all trustees are familiar with the risks they run and how to mitigate them!)

Within Governance360 we include a number of templates, including copies of the Charity Commission’s own model governing documents, which are the de facto norm and those that we strongly recommend.

In future blogs, as well as our newsletters to members of Governance360, we’ll begin to investigate further how the governing document works, and things to consider as a new trustee.  From here, we recommend you read our blog on