We at the Women’s Resource Centre are committed to building a strong, thriving and diverse women’s sector. A key part our work is to support and facilitate partnerships across the women’s sector. 

Often, partnership development and the work it entails is the role of the Chief Executive or paid development staff. But trustees have a major part to play too; for organisations looking to develop more formal partnerships – perhaps for contracting purposes; there are a number of legal and governance issues that need to be considered by trustees.

Whether an organisation is large or small and whether the work developing the partnership is being led by trustees or staff, it is the trustees who ultimately carry the legal responsibility for the charity: it’s their role to ensure that any decision taken regarding the organisation and any formal partnerships are:

  • In the best interests of the beneficiaries
  • Making the best use of charitable resources
  • In accordance with their governing document, charity law and any other legislation

There are 5 top WRC tips to help guide trustees through their responsibilities when it comes to setting up partnerships:

  • Be clear that any partnership arrangement you enter into is in the best interests of your charity and your beneficiaries
  • Consider the implications of what working in a partnership means for your organisation; weigh up the benefits against any risks before moving forward
  • The terms of the partnership must be clear to you – what the objectives are, milestones, timeframes, roles and responsibilities etc. – these should be written, agreed and understood before signing any formal agreements
  • Make sure that any decisions you take are within your powers; that they are reasonable and have been well thought through
  • Know your legal obligations as trustees – seek independent legal advice if necessary

WRC have produced a trustee checklist that takes those 5 top tips and guides trustees step by step through some of the questions they need to ask themselves before making any commitments to enter into more formal partnership working arrangements.

Are you a trustee for a women’s organisation? What are your views, thoughts and experiences on partnership working – get in touch, TELL US!


This blog post was written by Women's Resource Centre through the Women's Commissioning Support Unit project, a 3 year project funded by Esmée Fairbairn that worked in Birmingham and the West Midlands, the North East, Cambridge and Greater Manchester to support and develop networks, partnerships and consortia working.

Would you be interested in writing a blog for us? We would love to hear from you! Please fill out this form and we'll be in touch!