Virtual trustee meetings – why it is still important to communicate

Helen Oparinde, Development Officer in VAL’s Sector Support team looks at the role of trustees during lockdown.

The service might be closed, the staff furloughed, and you are having to self-isolate, yet the roles and responsibilities of a trustee continue.

In fact your role might be busier than ever as you try to cope with the serious financial challenges that the lockdown is having on your charity. As a trustee board you may have to make decisions on how to adapt to provide a COVID-19 response to the communities you support.

No longer able to meet face to face

Even though the lockdown rules mean you can’t have a face to face trustee meeting, we recommend trustees still discuss the needs of the charity.

The Charity Commission’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for the charity sector provides advice on postponing or cancelling meetings. As well as conducting virtual meetings. You might have a clause in your governing document about allowing to meet virtually. If you don’t, then you should record this decision and the reason being that there was a need to do this, to carry out good governance of your charity.

Financial challenges

The essential trustee guidance explains that it is the legal duty of a trustee to act in the best interests of the charity.

As grant opportunities for non-COVID-19 initiatives reduce and trading options such as running a café are no longer options, a trustee board will need to consider if it is in the best interests of the charity to reduce costs in order to be there to support beneficiaries in the future. This is alongside meeting the immediate needs of the charity’s beneficiaries, with the possibility that in future the charity will have to reduce its services or close entirely.

There may not be an obvious ‘right’ decision for a trustee board to make. However, by following suggested steps in the Charity Commission’s guidance for managing financial difficulties in your charity caused by Coronavirus, a trustee board can understand their charity’s financial position better, create a plan, and make the appropriate decisions.

If your trustee board would like help in deciding how to manage your financial situation please send us a message. Use the “support for your organisation” in the reason for contact drop down box.

How to talk virtually

Finally it’s alright saying meet virtually, but how do you do this? Catalyst is a charitable network which helps the voluntary sector strengthen its digital capabilities. They have produced a short guide to help charities choose the right video call software for their needs. They have also created online guides to help charities use Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts.

VAL’s Chair, Linda Jones, has also written about her experience of running VAL’s first virtual board meeting.

Get support from VAL

If you are a charity or community group and you need additional support to deliver services during the pandemic, VAL is here to help.

We can offer advice on issues that affect charities, from fundraising to proper governance and managing volunteers.

You get can in touch via:
0116 257 5050


Helen Oparinde

Helen Oparinde is a Development Officer for VAL as part of the Voluntary Sector Support team. Helen is an expert in charity governance and provides face-to-face and telephone advice to local charities and community groups. You can contact Helen at