As a registered charity we are required to appoint a board of trustees who have independent control over, and legal responsibility for, our management and administration.
Trustees play a very important voluntary role in a sector that contributes significantly to the UK. They are the ‘guardians of purpose’, making sure that all decisions that are made are for the good of the charity and its objectives, and to put the needs of the beneficiaries first. The Charity Commission highlights 6 main duties of “The Essential Trustee” as:
- Ensure your charity is carrying out its purposes for the public benefit
- Comply with your charity’s governing document and the law
- Act in your Charity’s best interests
- Ensure your charity is accountable
- Manage your charities resources responsibly
- Act with reasonable care and skill
The role of the Engineers Without Borders UK Board of Trustees is to govern the organisation and provide overall policy direction to achieve its aims in the most efficient and effective manner. The trustees are ultimately responsible under the Articles of Association for the management and administration of the charity. However, the Charity Commission recognises that, because of the scale of work undertaken by a charity such as Engineers Without Borders UK, decision-making on management is delegated to the Chief Executive and through them to the staff.
Trustees remain responsible for ensuring that the organisation has a clear shared vision and aims, that effective strategies are in place to achieve this and that the Chief Executive is carrying out the tasks which have been delegated to them efficiently.
How many trustees and why?
At Engineers Without Borders UK, the maximum number of trustees is eight. Of these, six are appointed by the trustees and two are elected from, and by, the voting membership. Trustees are appointed for a three-year term and are eligible to serve two consecutive terms. An additional two non-voting members can be co-opted to the board for advice on specific matters. The Articles of Association also allow for any person to be appointed as Secretary and perform the duties of the secretary of the charity. During the board meeting on 25 September 2016, it was agreed that the Chief Executive take up this role in an ex-officio capacity, and this remains the case currently.
Skills of our trustees
It is critical to ensure that the combined trusteeship brings all the necessary areas of expertise to govern the charity’s activities, as well as demonstrating a commitment to the objectives of Engineers Without Borders UK. In addition, we strive for a diversity of age, gender and expertise to ensure we are representing and hearing varied perspectives.
Above all, it is essential that trustees are committed to the vision and objectives of Engineers Without Borders UK and are able to commit to the governance role as laid out in the code of conduct.
Nominations and voting for member-elected trustees
We have two positions on the Board to be elected by the voting membership to ensure we have representative voices in the governance of our organisation. This is a valuable opportunity for someone keen to get involved in charity governance and support Engineers Without Borders UK to deliver on its mission to put global responsibility at the heart of engineering.
At our AGM on 25 November 2020, changes to our Memorandum and Articles of Association to update the nomination process for our member-elected trustees were approved by membership vote. This means that any member of Engineers Without Borders UK wishing to stand as a candidate for the role of member-elected trustee requires two voting member signatories.
In order to be eligible to stand as an elected Trustee, candidates must first become voting members of Engineers Without Borders UK.
Voting members have the right to:
- Vote at AGMs
- Nominate Trustee candidates
- Vote in Trustee elections.
In order to become a voting member, please join here.
Engineers Without Borders UK provides assurance to our many stakeholders through our Annual General Meeting and annual reports to Companies House and the Charity Commission, which include our audited accounts. All our partner organisations receive regular update reports to explain progress against the goals we have agreed with them.
In 2022, we commissioned a thorough independent expert review into our governance, to ensure we are meeting the high standards we expect of ourselves. Our Trustees received the full report for discussion in January 2023 (available on request).
In summary, the review concluded:
Engineers Without Borders UK has “a board which is operating well and without any serious concern. There is a clarity of shared vision and purpose, and the board is clearly focused on strategy and aware of their function in offer supporting and assistance to the Executive where required, whilst being mindful not to get too involved. The board is strong, and as expressed unanimously to me “the best it has ever been”, with well structured, prepared and delivered meetings”.