Role description


The role of the chair is to lead the board of trustees, ensuring that it fulfils its responsibilities for the governance of the charity.  This will involve working closely with the vice chairs and honorary treasurer. The chair’s role is also to work in partnership with the chief executive and the senior management team. This will involve helping them achieve NCVO’s aims and to optimise the relationship between the board of trustees and the staff.

This is a voluntary role and trustees receive no remuneration. Trustees are entitled to claim expenses in line with NCVO’s expense policy. This would include attendance at board meetings and other NCVO events necessary for the fulfilment of their duties.

The successful candidate will be formally appointed at NCVO’s annual general meeting in November 2020 for an initial three-year term of office and will be eligible to stand for a second and final term of three years.

Governance structure

NCVO is governed by a board of trustees, which comprises:

  • the chair
  • the treasurer
  • up to seven trustees nominated and elected by NCVO’s members
  • three appointed trustees to address identified diversity and skills gaps.

The trustee board appoints a vice-chair from among the trustees. This is currently a role shared by two trustees.

The Charities Act 2011 defines charity trustees as those responsible under the charity’s governing document for controlling the administration and management of the charity. The role of the trustee board is to receive funds, safeguard them and apply them to the charitable purposes of NCVO. The trustee board must always act in the best interests of NCVO. This means they would exercise the same standard of duty of care that a prudent person would apply if looking after the affairs of someone for whom they have responsibility. The trustee board must act as a group and not as individuals.

As well as being a registered charity, NCVO is a company limited by guarantee, and NCVO’s trustees are registered as directors at Companies House.

Main responsibilities

The duties of the chair cover two areas:  those as a trustee and those specifically designated to the chair.

The specific responsibilities of the chair include:

  • providing leadership for the board of trustees in their role of setting the strategy and policy of the charity
  • planning the annual cycle of board meetings with the chief executive and company secretary
  • effectively chairing board meetings
  • monitoring that decisions taken at meetings are implemented
  • representing the charity at functions and meetings with members and other stakeholders
  • liaising with the chief executive to keep an overview of the charity’s affairs and providing support as appropriate
  • leading the process of appraising the performance of the chief executive
  • sitting on appointment and disciplinary panels when required
  • chairing the appointments committee which appoints the chief executive and other senior executives, as appropriate
  • chairing the annual general meeting
  • attending meetings of NCVO’s HR & remuneration committee
  • chairing meetings of NCVO’s nominations committee
  • representing NCVO as a trustee of the Charities Aid Foundation.

Duties as a trustee are to:

  • ensure that NCVO complies with its governing document, charity law, company law and any other relevant legislation or regulations
  • ensure that NCVO pursues its objects as defined in its governing document
  • ensure NCVO applies its resources exclusively in pursuance of its objects
  • contribute actively to the board of trustees’ role in giving firm strategic direction to NCVO, setting overall policy, defining goals and setting targets and evaluating performance against agreed targets
  • safeguard the good name and values of NCVO
  • ensure the financial stability of NCVO
  • protect and manage the property of NCVO and to ensure the proper investment of NCVO’s funds
  • appoint and support the chief executive and monitor his/her performance
  • be aware of potential conflicts of interests, avoid them were possible and declare then when they occur.

Big challenges for this role

  • Ensuring NCVO acts as a collective and effective voice for volunteering and the voluntary sector
  • Ensuring governance decisions enable the organisation to adapt to rapid changes in the external environment while staying true to NCVO’s core vision and mission
  • Building trustee board consensus to enable NCVO to effectively represent volunteering and the voluntary sector
  • Knowing when to listen and when to challenge.