The Charity Commission has updated its coronavirus guidance on holding AGMs and other meetings.
You can read the updated guidance on the Charity Commission’s website.
POSTPONING OR CANCELLING MEETINGS
Trustees need to check if their charity’s governing document allows them to hold meetings online or by telephone. Where it does not, an alternative may be to amend it to allow meetings to be held in this way.
The Commission recognises that for some charities virtual meetings are not a viable solution, nor are socially distanced face-to-face meetings. In such instances trustees may consider they have no choice but to cancel or postpone their AGMs and other critical meetings.
If you do consider such a decision is necessary, you should follow any rules in your charity’s governing document that allow for postponement, adjournment or cancellation. If there are no such rules, but you decide that this is still the best course of action for your charity in the current circumstances, you should record the reasons for this decision to demonstrate good governance of your charity. This is particularly important if it is not possible to hold your AGM which may make it difficult for you to finalise your annual reports and accounts.
Wherever possible, the Commission would ask you to get your annual reports to them on time. However, where the situation impacts on the completion of annual returns and accounts, charities with an imminent filing date can email the Commission.
Please include your charity name and charity registration number when you email them: firstname.lastname@example.org
HOLDING MEETINGS ONLINE OR BY TELEPHONE
In the current situation, it may be difficult to hold face-to-face meetings. Some charities have clauses in their governing documents that allow them to meet virtually or to use telephone facilities. The commission advises trustees to check their governing document and see if they can make amendments themselves to facilitate changes as to how or when meetings are held.
Generally, if there is no such clause in the governing document and trustees decide to hold meetings over the phone or using digital solutions, the Commission will understand but you should record this decision and that you have done this to demonstrate good governance of your charity.
This is all the more important because the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020, which permitted charitable companies and CIOs to hold AGMs and other members’ meetings online regardless of their governing documents, ended on 30 March 2021.