Administration, Governance, Management & leadership, Strategy and planning

Key Guides: The Board Secretary’s Handbook

This handbook tells you what a board secretary is and why you need one. It explains the roles, duties and responsibilities depending on your organisation.

Board Secretary Handbook cover

The role of board secretary in the voluntary sector is often one which is additional to other responsibilities – you may have inherited it as part of your current responsibilities or subsequently had it tacked on to your main role. Yet, with the rapid growth in regulatory and governance expectations, it is an increasingly important function and integral to the good governance of charities. This handbook will ensure that you avoid any potential legal and practical pitfalls.

Who should buy this book?

A must-read for anyone in a position of responsibility as a board secretary, or equivalent. Valuable reading for trustees and CEOs – in fact, anyone who is on or who reports to the board. Reading this will be of benefit to any voluntary sector staff who want to know what practical good governance looks like.

What does it cover?

This handbook tells you what a board secretary is and why you need one. It explains the roles, duties and responsibilities depending on your organisation. It tells you everything you need to know about:

  • Core skills and requirements of a board secretary
  • Regulation, records and registers for all types of organisations
  • Governance issues and roles in the wider sector
  • Useful tips on the process of meetings, decision-making and resolutions

Thorough on the law but practical on the application and with an invaluable series of checklists and examples, with this book your job suddenly got that much easier.

‘This handbook does a brilliant job of bringing the role of board secretary to life and dusting away the proverbial cobwebs by explaining how this vital role can contribute to the success of any organisation. If you are new to the sector or the role, it gives a wonderful insight into the relevance of the role and how you can make sure that your organisation is following good governance practice. The author writes in a way that is easy to understand and her knowledge and experience means that even seasoned secretaries will be given new food for thought!’

Phillippa Caine, Association Secretary, Guide Dogs


‘Every board secretary, from those new to the role through to seasoned professionals, will find this guide useful. It will help new board secretaries settle into their role and will make life easier for those who are more experienced, thanks to its tools, techniques and checklists. I commend this invaluable resource as essential reading for every board secretary.’

Rosie Chapman FCIS, Chair, Charity Governance Code Steering Group [from the foreword]


‘A practical, reliable and engaging guide for everyone in the role of secretary to boards of charities or voluntary sector bodies. Read this book and you, like its author, may fall in love with this great role and these wonderful organisations!’

Cecile Gillard, Legal Manager, Charities, Burton Sweet and Company Secretarial Manager, Bates Wells Braithwaite


‘I have known the author for many years and this book is emblematic of her personal approach to this vital role. The book is comprehensive, thoughtful, easy to read and an incredibly useful tool for anyone responsible for company secretarial matters. The advice at the end of each chapter, as well as the checklists at the end of the book, are an absolutely invaluable aid to anyone new to the role and keen to get it right.’

Richard Leaman-Grey CB OBE, Chief Executive Officer, Tall Ships Youth Trust


‘Written by an active practitioner, this book provides an expert guide on what the role of board secretary means in everyday practice. This is not only for those who find themselves new to this role, but an important reference tool for anyone who works on or reports to a board.’

Jitinder Takhar, Chief Executive Officer, Local Space Ltd

Look inside

Have a look inside The Board Secretary’s Handbook.

About the author

Kirsty Semple

Kirsty Semple ACIS LLM is a governance consultant and is Director of Semple Associates Ltd, formed in 2001. She is also editor of the ICSA Charities Handbook. Specialising in corporate governance and compliance, Kirsty has provided consultancy, training and support to boards of numerous voluntary sector organisations for 18 years. Before going into public practice, Kirsty was Company Secretary of the disability charity Scope. She now acts as secretary for a range of organisations, including the Born Free Foundation and the National Garden Scheme.

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