How Vision Aid Overseas is Run
An overview of how Vision Aid Overseas is governed.
The document is also available to download as a PDF at the bottom of this page.
Vision Aid Overseas was founded in 1985. Since then it has expanded from a dozen members running 3 or 4 projects per year to nearly 1,000 members in an organisation running over 25 projects per year including establishing permanent Vision Centres and training of local personnel. The charity has evolved to keep up with all these changes and the aim of these notes is to share this on-going process with Members.
2. Legal Status.
Vision Aid Overseas is both a charity and a company. It has a registered charity number and a company number and it is regulated by both charity and company law. The Trustees of the charity are also the Directors of the Company.
3. Foundation Document.
The Foundation Document, our Memorandum & Articles, details the objects of our charity, the duties of Trustees and the responsibilities of the Board. Our Memorandum & Articles can be downloaded from the Vision Aid Overseas website.
4. The Objects of Vision Aid Overseas.
The objects of the charity stated in our Memorandum & Articles are “the preservation and protection of eye health and treatments of eye defects among poor persons overseas in particular by providing or assisting in the provision of optometric and optical services eye services and other related facilities.” This broadly empowers the charity to collaborate with other organisations to deliver efficient and integrated primary eye care for our patients while our focus is on spectacle correction and provision.
5. The Board.
The Board is legally responsible for all aspects of Vision Aid Overseas and its activities. A management team led by a Chief Executive is responsible to the Board for running the charity on a day-to-day basis so the Board is concerned with governance rather than management. Governance defines strategic goals and tactical objectives, monitoring progress towards them, allocating budgets, and ensuring compliance with legal requirements. The Board meets four times per year and the present composition is:
Marcus Swalwell – Chairman
Peter Farrar – Treasurer
Our Articles state that there should be between 5 and 10 Trustees who are elected by members at the AGM. Voting can be either in person or by proxy. Trustees bring a broad range of skills and experience (e.g. optometry, dispensing, technical, logistics, finance, law, international development, marketing, communications, fundraising etc.). The Board recruits and nominates candidates for election. Members may also nominate themselves as candidates.
The main responsibilities of Trustees include:
-reviewing the strategic aims of Vision Aid Overseas
-ensuring that policies and practices are kept in line with charitable objectives
-ensuring that the organisation complies with the law and best practice
7. Finance Committee.
The Finance Committee monitors all aspects of the charity’s finances and business affairs including such matters as: financial controls, budgets, business plans, insurance policies, bank accounts etc. It also makes recommendations to the Board on strategic matters and Memoranda of Understanding with partners. It meets 4 times per year and consists of:
Peter Farrar – Treasurer and Chairman of the Finance Committee
Marcus Swalwell – Chairman
8. Financial Matters.
The financial affairs of the charity are overseen by the Treasurer who is a qualified accountant. Each year there is an external audit, and, in accordance with the law, the accounts are forwarded to Companies House and the Charities Commission. The full accounts are available for download on the Vision Aid Overseas website.
9. The Chief Executive.
The Chief Executive is a full-time, paid employee who is responsible to the Board for all the day-to-day aspects of the running of the charity. While working within the policy framework agreed by the Board, she/he has considerable freedom of action and is expected to provide leadership and to work proactively to further the aims of Vision Aid Overseas. Because of her/his day-to-day contact with all aspects of the charity’s work, it is strongly recommended that members with queries should direct them in the first instance to the Chief Executive rather than to the Trustees.
10. The Management Team.
The Management Team, led by the Chief Executive, operates the charity especially in Programme Management & Support, Fundraising, Communications, Accounts.
11. Project Implementation Team.
Programme Directors are project volunteers who play an important role in connection with the project programme. They have particular knowledge and interest in their country of concern and act as points of contact for Country Partners. In addition they provide advice to the Chief Executive concerning Vision Aid Overseas projects to their countries.
Our Members (individuals or organisations) pay an annual subscription to Vision Aid Overseas. All paid-up members have the right to attend the AGM and vote.