60-second interview with Chris Knight

Chris Knight, 3/12/2018

Chris Knight is Partner and Head of Charities and Education, Hewitsons in Northampton.

What does your firm do?

Hewitsons is a full-service legal firm with a number of specialisms. These include charities and education, which also encompasses social enterprise. I lead a team of people who are experts in this field, or have expertise in wider operational areas. Our clients range from small to large, local to international, are of every type of structure and involved in every area of charitable endeavour. So we need a good team!

What do you think are the main challenges facing charity trustees at the moment?

Time and expertise. Trusteeship is hugely rewarding, and society relies heavily on the work of charities, but it can take a lot of time. As charities face increasing regulation in every area of work they do, trustees need to ensure they are compliant.

How do you think The Informed Trustee will help?

The course will equip trustees with the essentials, starting with core duties but taking in a wider understanding of charities’ operational and regulatory needs. Trustees do not need to be experts at everything, but they do need to understand the environment in which they work, so they can recognise when an issue needs greater scrutiny, closer monitoring of delegation, or expert advice.

How are you involved with the course?

I have written the operations chapters (with invaluable assistance from Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish colleagues) and, like all the writers, collaborated on integrating all aspects of the course.

Are you involved with any charities yourself?

In my day job my colleagues and I help over 400 charities and educational institutions. Outside work, I have been a trustee, volunteer or informal legal advisor for a number of charities over the years. I’m currently involved with two small local charities, and a national charity for which I deliver training for beneficiaries.

Have you ever been a charity trustee?

Yes; and although it can be hard work it is also very rewarding. I have learned to avoid being a trustee to more than one very active charity at once, because it’s too difficult to balance the work required with the demands of my professional and personal life. I value the contribution I can make to these charities’ work, and professionally, it is really interesting to see things from the trustees’ side of the equation.

What would you say to a young person thinking of taking on a charity trustee role?

I thoroughly recommend it. The rewards are well worth the effort, both from a personal perspective and for the community. You are part of an organisation which makes a positive and essential difference to people’s lives, and the role will sharpen your skills in many aspects of responsibility.

Which social media channels do you use and why?

I use LinkedIn occasionally for professional networking, and as a business we use Twitter (@Hewitsons) to update our clients and contacts on charity and education issues.