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Being an Effective Chair

Welcome to our resources which will support you in being an effective Chair of a smaller charity.  Below are resources that will help you:

  • Know your role and legal responsibilities
  • Understand the characteristics of an effective Chair
  • Chair board meetings effectively
  • Look after yourself in your chairing role

We have listed relevant Beacon and AoC resources as well as external resources, produced by other organisations that we think you may find useful.

To access all the resources, please join the free programme first.

If you have already registered for the Beacon programme you need to login to get full acccess the following resources.

Types of resources

Don’t have much time? Beacon's Top Tips will provide you with some practical tips for effectively fulfilling your chairing role

Need help with the doing? Beacon's Tools will provide you with useful frameworks and suggestions based on good practice

Want to explore a topic further? Our Guides will get you thinking; outlining best practice, key issues for Chairs of smaller charities and topics for further discussion

Please give us feedback on our resources by clicking on this icon.  Let us know what you found particularly useful or not so useful.

Beacon and AoC resources

Being an Effective Chair Workbook (PDF)
Our ‘Being an Effective Chair’ workbook, takes you through the content and discussion topics for this first module of content. Download it to find out what we have been discussing with Chairs and Vice Chairs all over the country.

A Chair’s Compass: A guide for Chairs of charities and non-profit organisations (PDF)
This guide focuses entirely on the Chair’s perspective and the challenges and opportunities of the role.

Effective Charity Chairs: A Literature review by Anjelica Finnegan (PDF)
A literature review focusing on the perceived effectiveness of charity Chairs from the view of key actors: Chair, CEO, the board and wider stakeholders

Self-care for Chairs of smaller charities (PDF)
To be an effective Chair, looking after yourself is important. Developed with Chairs of smaller charities, here we share some top tips for doing this.

Online Surgeries Tops Tips (PDF)
A helpful step by step guide to joining our new Online Surgeries

Preparing for good board meetings (PDF)
Managing board meetings is a key part of the Chair’s role. A good board meeting requires preparation. Here we share some top tips to help with this.

Helping your board to make good decisions (PDF)
Boards make important decisions; Chairs have a lead role in enabling their boards to do this effectively. Here we share some top tips to help you help your board.

Managing Conflicts of Interest (PDF)
Conflicts of interest cannot (and arguably should not) be avoided, instead as Chair you need to ensure that conflicts are identified and managed appropriately. Here are some top tips to help you do this.

Chairs on chairing (PDF)
In developing the Beacon Programme, we worked closely with Chairs and Vice Chairs of smaller charities.  Here we share some of their top tips on chairing.

What Chairs need to know about the minuting of board meetings (PDF) -
As Chair you have an important role in overseeing the preparation of the minutes of your board meetings and ensuring that they are stored properly. Here are some top tips to help you do this.

The Chief Executive or Operational Report (PDF)
To be an effective board you need clear, timely and comprehensive information from your CEO or the person who regularly undertakes key tasks. Here we provide a framework to help you work together so that you and your board get the information you need.

Chair's Compass self-assessment (PDF)
This self-assessment tool, based on A Chair's Compass, aims to help you think about your role and reflect on how you could do better

Understanding your constitution: A Chair's guide (PDF)
It’s really important that you and your board understand and follow your charity’s constitution (you may call it something different e.g. governing document or Mem and Arts).  This guide is intended to help you find your way around this key document and highlights key things for you (and your trustees) to look out for.

External resources

Below are some guides and resources developed by other organisations that we think you may find useful.  Some of these resources are referred to in our events

Good Governance code for smaller charities. (Charity Governance Code steering group)
A code to help charities and their trustees develop these high standards of governance.  This version is specifically for smaller charities.

The essential trustee: what you need to know, what you need to do (CC3) (Charity Commission)
This guidance explains the key duties of all trustees in England and Wales, and what trustees need to do to carry out these duties competently.

Charities and meetings (CC48). (Charity Commission)
Contains guidance on the law and good practice of charity meetings.

Effective board reporting: Transform decision making in the boardroom (ICSA)
Guidance to help you address the right issues and ask the right questions to get the right information.

Governing with intent: An inquiry into trustee effectiveness. (Onboard Governance Development and BWB)
Research looking at the opinions, perceptions and experiences of board members, Chief Executives and senior staff around the effectiveness of governance.

Board Leadership: A practical guide for the social sector (Clore Social Leadership)
Practical guidance on governing organisations in the social sector.

What is a governing document (Knowhow Nonprofit)
A short piece to help you understand your governing document.