Responsibilities for voluntary managed groups

Find out about the roles and responsibilities of your committee.

The constitution

Charities are governed by a governing document, which sets out the rules and procedures for managing the group. The governing document’s name will vary, depending upon the legal status of the group, but typically it will be either a constitution or articles of association. These documents set out what a group does and how it is achieved. They also set out the make up and size of the committee and the committee’s powers and responsibilities.

You should

  • Make sure all committee and staff members have a copy
  • Make it available to all members of your group. It is good practice to display it on the notice board or your website.
  • Review, put forward any suggestions for changes and re-adopt annually at the Annual General Meeting (AGM)
  • Contact the Charity Commission if you wish to alter your existing constitution or adopt another

Recommended reading

The Pre-school Learning Alliance has a model constitution, which has been accepted by the Charity Commission, which can be adopted by member groups. The Pre-school Learning Alliance  also has model articles of association which can be adopted by member groups and are accepted by the Charity Commission.


Charities are run by trustees. These are people who form the governing body or board of a charity. They may be called trustees, directors, board members, governors or committee members, but they are the people with ultimate responsibility for the general control, management and administration of the charity. Most trustees are volunteers, and receive no payment (except, sometimes, out-of-pocket expenses).

Some settings own premises and they may have a separate (small) group of people who act as property trustees. Most people can become a trustee but there are certain groups of people who are disqualified, please see the Charity Commission guidance

You should:

  • Ensure all trustees are clear on the their roles and responsibilities
  • Ensure the Charity Commission has a complete and up-to-date list of all trustees
  • Ensure the Charity Commission has a complete and up-to-date list of all property trustees (if applicable)

Recommended reading Charity Commission guidance – CC3 The Essential Trustee: What you need to know

Roles and responsibilities of trustees

There are some joint responsibilities for all trustees and some specific ones for the charity’s officers (chair person, treasurer and secretary).

Joint responsibilities include ensuring the charity is run in accordance with its constitution and in the best interests of its members, health and safety, risk assessment, safeguarding of children (including safer recruitment of staff), ensuring Ofsted registration requirements are met, first aid and policy making.

Roles and responsibilities of the chairperson, secretary and treasurer

The chairperson’s role includes:

  • taking charge of committee meetings and open meetings – making sure that they are effective and run in accordance with the constitution, and that decisions are taken and carried out in a way that reflects the needs and wishes of the charity’s members
  • line management of the supervisor/manager/playleader.  This includes regular one-to-one supervision sessions and annual appraisals
  • supporting and authorising the work of the treasurer
  • representing the charity, as necessary, at public events and meetings of other organisations
  • ensuring end of year reports are submitted within required deadlines, including those to the Charity Commission and HMRC

The secretary role includes:

  • dealing with all the official paperwork, except for keeping accounts. Writing and receiving letters and keeping records of correspondence.
  • working with the Chairperson to arrange meetings and draw up an agenda
  • keeping records of meetings.

The treasurer role includes:

  • planning, for example, preparing an income and expenditure budget and making recommendations to the group about finances
  • day-to-day management of accounts, including issuing bills and receipts on behalf of the group, and making payments, including wages
  • administering petty cash
  • reporting – keeping a record of money received and spent and presenting this information at committee meetings
  • maintaining the bank account
  • preparing end of year accounts

Find further information in our committee roles and responsibilities document (docx format, 1.8Mb).


An employed administrator can provide valuable support to the trustees.  An administrator does not make decisions for the group but is paid for their work. More information is available in our administrator brief (pdf format 28KB)


Whether you keep records in a hand written accounts book or in a computer spreadsheet or accounts package you should check that your procedures follow the Charity Commission guidelines. Accounting requirements vary depending upon the income of the group.

Information should be communicated in a way that enables trustees to carry out their responsibilities and take appropriate actions. The format of the financial information may vary according to the size and complexity of a charity and preferred reporting styles. However, the financial information provided should always be understandable, accurate and timely. Information also needs to be provided regularly to ensure trustees can fulfil their monitoring role.

The financial information provided at each trustee meeting should include details of the charity's financial position and performance. The financial information should be sent to each trustee before each meeting and will typically include:

  • the latest management accounts;
  • a comparison of budget to actual figures;
  • an explanation for variances between forecasts and what actually happened; and
  • details of cash flow and closing bank balances.

The meeting should set aside a specific time within the agenda for discuss of financial matters and allow the trustees to raise any issues of concern.

The group (usually with the treasurer taking the lead) must produce an annual report of their finances. This document should be available to any member of the public who requests it (part of the public accountability of the charity). In addition an annual return is required by the Charity Commission. This requirement helps the Charity Commission monitor all registered charities. You should receive a form to complete and return each year.

It is sensible to hold financial reserves (a contingency fund). The Charity Commission along with organisations such as the Pre-school learning Alliance support and encourage this.

You should:

  • ensure appropriate accounting records are kept
  • ensure careful payment of authorised expenses
  • take all reasonable steps to avoid mistakes, confusion, theft, fraud. It is recommended that payments are authorised by two officers, the invoice to which the payment relates is seen, blank cheques are never signed and a duplicate bank statement is sent to the chair person
  • ensure that trustees regularly review and monitor the charity’s finances
  • prepare annual end of year accounts and present them at the Annual General Meeting (AGM)
  • send an annual return to Charity Commission and Companies House (if applicable)
  • have a financial reserves/contingency policy, which is reviewed and updated annually to include a check to ensure that the level of reserves/contingency is sufficient and reasonable.

Recommended reading

Encouraging participation

Trustees might include people with a particular interest in your charity’s work, school governors, teachers, premises providers, councillors and other voluntary or statutory agencies, depending on the terms of the constitution.

See also Charity Commission - I want to find new trustees

Ofsted registration

Each Ofsted-registered childcare provision has a 'registered person'. The registered person can be either one person or an organisation that is responsible overall for the childcare. The registered person is responsible for making sure the provision meets the requirements of the Early Years Register and/or Childcare Register.

Procedure for Informing Ofsted of committee changes/EY2 Forms/DBS checks

The nominated person is to notify Ofsted, within 14 days, of changes of committee members, this can be done by telephone or email (previously EY3 form).

Each new committee member is to complete an EY2 form online by registering at Ofsted’s online portal: You will then be guided to to complete a DBS check.

DBS checks

Step One

Read all of the information, this explains about the reference code to use (OfSTEDA).  The cost for volunteers is around £8.10.

Step Two

It is important to read Information about Volunteers

Complete the application form. The organisation reference is OfSTEDA, no need to enter a password. There is a question about Employment details, which you will need to click 'Registered person' if you are part of the committee or 'Nominated person' if you are the groups representative for Ofsted.

Step Three

Identity checking form will need to be completed, ID documents verified by an approved person as per the Ofsted list and then scanned and e-mailed back to Capita. It is important not to forget to fill in the form and return to Capita or the process will be held up.

If there is a change of manager, you must notify Ofsted that a new manager has been appointed.

Yearly planner

Many of the things you need to do happen on a regular basis, maybe once a year or less frequently. Here is a guide year planner (.doc format, 39Kb) for you to fill in the key dates, so that you can plan, diarise and be prepared.