Trustees: every charity needs them!
The legal responsibilities of a charity trustee are serious and cannot be taken lightly.They are set out in clear government publications giving more detail about their duties The preface to this latter text, outlining the role of a trustee and setting out guidelines for those taking on the responsibility, says:
‘Trustees have independent control over, and legal responsibility for, a charity’s management and administration. They play a very important role, almost always unpaid, in a sector that contributes significantly to the character and wellbeing of the country.
Trusteeship can be rewarding for many reasons - from a sense of making a difference to the charitable cause, to new experiences and relationships. It’s also likely to be demanding of your time, skills, knowledge and abilities.’
The text goes on to outline the duties of a trustee; these are summed up in six main instructions given to those appointed to this important governing body, and EMF trustees are fully committed to the following principles, as set out in the jig-saw picture below:
We asked Andy Woods to find out more about our EMF trustees … this is what he discovered!
'Nevil Shute once wrote a book called Trustee From the Toolroom, but there are few people who read him nowadays! Shute’s ‘trustee’ was a widowed aircraft engineer who suddenly became a legal guardian or trustee for someone’s daughter. That is not the kind of trustee we have in EMF.
How many, and who?
EMF currently has twelve trustees who help run the mission in the background and to whom the director reports. The number of trustees for EMF feels about right. Too many trustees would make decision-making difficult, whilst too few would reduce the breadth of experience.
Who are these mysterious beings? We spoke to one of them, Simon Gay, a pastor in Norfolk, with a business background, about this side of his work.
Simon first attended a trustees meeting as an observer in 2015. The mission used to have a committee, and their role has now transitioned into that of trustees. Is that merely a cosmetic change of name, or is there more to it? Well, it does represent the legal responsibilities which trustees have to take on. Probably 50% of a trustee’s time is occupied with decisions over financial matters, though for some members it can be a much higher proportion. That is not discounting what God can, and does, provide, but it is all about seeking to make wise decisions over expenditure, decisions that do not produce a nightmare further down the line.
EMF’s trustees are mostly men in ministry, with a variety of backgrounds, which is a strength.They have to be people who can express a clear opinion and make decisions, but be able to work together. ‘Yes-men’ are of no help. Because the mission is focussed on Europe, they need to have that continent on their hearts, even if they have mission interest or experience elsewhere. They also need to represent the supporters of the mission, both churches and individuals, so will have a range of theological opinion within the ‘reformed’ evangelical spectrum.
What do they do?
Perhaps a good example of the work of EMF trustees would be the Ukraine Appeal Fund, where substantial help has been received and passed on to responsible Christians who have channeled the funds into the most needy areas in that country, working with trusted partners on the ground. This has involved countless hours of work,both on the part of EMF staff members and on that of the Business Sub-committee trustees, of whom Simon is one.
In determining priorities of Ukrainian appeal fund allocation, the members of this business sub-committee have always had to remember that the Gospel must not be lost sight of. Most giving came in early, but expenditure has been carefully administered because of the long-term nature of the difficulties. The trustees had to cope with the fear that having an appeal fund might reduce general giving, which has thankfully not happened.
Ukraine is hopefully a ‘one-off’, but of course the trustees are also concerned with many other matters such as training and literature; a bit of knowledge about property can come in handy, too. EMF itself does not possess property, but churches in Europe often ask the committee to give them advice and guidance on issues related to property.
The trustees will take an active role in assisting the director with the selection of new missionaries, ensuring a fit with the mission’s doctrinal position. When new missionaries are accepted, their financial support may come partly from general funds until their personal designated support has reached full strength. When potential trustees are approached, they attend a couple of quarterly meetings to see if there is a mutual ‘fit’, before serving. As mentioned above, Simon Gay also serves on the business sub-committee, where he has to be wary of interfering in the role of EMF staff! With some concern for the future, he has noticed the high average age of our mission supporters, but he is also heartened at the way EMF has been taking on mostly young new missionaries, as well as younger men in training. A number of people have expressed their appreciation of this.
EMF was freed from maintaining a large, listed building some years ago. The painful decision of the past (a decision, taken by the trustees, to sell that building) has borne fruit in the mission's being able to support the training of people specifically for gospel work in Europe, without the need to become overburdened with the bureaucracy created by legislation regarding overseas students. Simon wonders what would have happened during the post-Brexit and Covid years had that decision not been made before these crises appeared.'
On behalf of all in the EMF family, we thank our trustees for the time dedicated to governing this mission so competently and carefully, as well as for the wisdom and spiritual guidance they have offered over the years. We are grateful for their prayers, their love for the Gospel, and their willingness to serve the Lord alongside us.