Our governance and policies

Strong governance and management are critical to our success and reputation, and accordingly we have a governing Council that takes overall responsibility for our work.

Please note: some of the policies and governance information on this page is still being updated since we became the Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Partnership in January 2020.

On this page:

Our governance

Our policies

Our governance

The Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Partnership is a charity registered in England and Wales (326730) regulated by the Charity Commission. In Scotland, we are registered (SC038415) by the Scottish charity regulator. We are governed by a Council of Trustees. The day-to-day running of the charity is the responsibility of the Chief Executive and Senior Team.

Additionally, the charitys governance complies with the code for the Voluntary and Community Sector, endorsed by the Charity Commission. We are a member of the Fundraising Regulator and our fundraising complies with its Fundraising Promise, which includes having a complaints procedure.

We are a member, and follow the standards of the Association for Medical Research Charities to ensure all medical research we fund is carried out to the highest standards.

Council of Trustees

Our Council consists of Trustees who work together and take overall responsibility for the charity, supported by committees and advisory groups. They are responsible for:

  • Furthering our overall purpose, as set out in our governing document, and setting our direction and strategy.
  • Ensuring our work is effective, responsible and legal.
  • Safeguarding our finances, resources and property and ensuring they are used to further our purpose, including approval of annual budgets.
  • Being accountable to those with an interest or stake in us or those who regulate us. Establishing clear boundaries with the staff and volunteers who carry out our work between the governance role of the council and operational or day-to-day matters.
  • Ensuring the Council operates effectively.

The Council comprises up to 16 Trustees, 10 of whom are directly elected by members and up to a further six who may be co-opted by Council. Trustees receive no remuneration other than for expenses incurred as Trustees.

Council Sub-Committees

There are three sub-committees which operate under terms of reference set by Council and report on their meetings to the subsequent Council meeting. They are the:

  • Finance and Audit Committee: oversees in detail the financial plans and performance of the organisation, reviews the results of the risk management processes and monitors the performance of the charitys investment portfolio.
  • Nominations Committee: oversees the process for the election and co-option of Trustees.
  • Remuneration Committee: responsible for advising Council on staff remuneration.

Advisory Groups

There are also advisory groups which provide specialist advice and support to the organisation.

  • Research Review Panel: Members of the panel are invited independent experts who meet to review grant applications and make recommendations to Council, and inform and review progress against the research strategy. They adhere to our Conflict of Interest Policy and our Code of Conduct
  • Council of Healthcare Professionals: A multi-disciplinary group of health care professionals who act in an advisory and ambassadorial capacity to help Asthma UK achieve its strategic objectives.
  • Lay Advisory Group: A panel of people who provide advice to Asthma UK staff and the Trustees on the views of people with asthma and their carers.

Annual General Meeting

Each year the charity has an Annual General Meeting to consider matters including the annual accounts and reports and the election or re-election of Trustees.

Our Policies

Fundraising promise

We receive no government funding, so our life-saving advice and research is only possible thanks to our wonderful supporters.

Registered with the Fundraising Regulator

Asthma UK is proud to be registered with the Fundraising Regulator, the independent regulator of charitable fundraising.

Being registered to the Fundraising Regulator means we are committed to its Fundraising Promise which outlines our commitment to donors and the public. This means we ensure that our fundraising is legal, open, honest and respectful. The standards for fundraising are set out in the Code of Fundraising Practice.

We will commit to high standards

  • We will adhere to the Fundraising Code of Practice.
  • We will monitor fundraisers, volunteers and third parties working with us to raise funds, to ensure that they comply with the Code of Fundraising Practice and with this Promise. 
  • We will comply with the law as it applies to charities and fundraising. 
  • We will display the Fundraising Regulator badge on our fundraising material to show we are committed to good practice.

We will be clear, honest and open

  • We will tell the truth and we will not exaggerate. 
  • We will do what we say we are going to do with donations we receive. 
  • We will be clear about who we are and what we do. 
  • We will give a clear explanation of how you can make a gift and change a regular donation. 
  • Where we ask a third party to fundraise on our behalf, we will make this relationship and the financial arrangement transparent. 
  • We will be able to explain our fundraising costs and show how they are in the best interests of our cause if challenged. 
  • We will ensure our complaints process is clear and easily accessible. 
  • We will provide clear and evidence based reasons for our decisions on complaints.

We will be respectful

  • We will respect your rights and privacy. 
  • We will not put undue pressure on you to make a gift. If you do not want to give or wish to cease giving, we will respect your decision. 
  • We will have a procedure for dealing with people in vulnerable circumstances and it will be available on request. 
  • Where the law requires, we will get your consent before we contact you to fundraise. 
  • If you tell us that you don’t want us to contact you in a particular way we will not do so. We will work with the Telephone, Mail and Fundraising Preference Services to ensure that those who choose not to receive specific types of communication don’t have to.

We will be fair and reasonable

  • We will treat donors and the public fairly, showing sensitivity and adapting our approach depending on your needs. 
  • We will take care not to use any images or words that intentionally cause distress or anxiety. 
  • We will take care not to cause nuisance or disruption to the public.

We will be accountable and responsible 

  • We will manage our resources responsibly and consider the impact of our fundraising on our donors, supporters and the wider public. 
  • If you are unhappy with anything we’ve done whilst fundraising, you can contact us to make a complaint. We will listen to feedback and respond appropriately to compliments and criticism we receive. 
  • We will have a complaints procedure, a copy of which will be available on our website or available on request. 
  • Our complaints procedure will let you know how to contact the Fundraising Regulator in the event that you feel our response is unsatisfactory. 
  • We will monitor and record the number of complaints we receive each year and share this data with the Fundraising Regulator on request.

If you have any questions or concerns you can call us on 0300 222 5800 (press Option 2).

Policy for fundraising communications with vulnerable supporters


To ensure that we take all reasonable care to protect vulnerable adults, Asthma UK complies with the Institute of Fundraising guidance set out in the document called “Treating Donors Fairly: Responding To The Needs Of People In Vulnerable Circumstances And Helping Donors Make Informed Decisions”. Asthma UK requires its staff and any agencies contacting members of the public on our behalf to comply with guidelines provided by the Direct Marketing Association and the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association. These guidelines do not cover children and young people under the age of 18, and we do not actively seek donations from them.

Asthma UK relies entirely on donations from individuals and grants from organisations to fund our work – without our donors we could not carry out our vital work supporting people with asthma and funding research to find new treatments and ultimately a cure.  We aim to communicate with supporters in the ways in which they are most comfortable and this includes mail, email, SMS, phone and in person.

Every donor is an individual with a unique background, experiences and circumstances – and every interaction between a fundraiser and donor is different. Asthma UK does not identify vulnerable adults based on broad personal characteristics such as disability or age. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to donate if they are willing and able to do so, and that denying people the chance to give based on appearance, age or behaviour may be considered discriminatory.

It is inevitable that we will come into contact with people who are vulnerable and not able to make informed decisions about their giving. This can happen either through our own communications or through communications from the agencies who work on our behalf. This document outlines how we take all reasonable care to identify supporters who may be vulnerable, and what action we take if we suspect a person is vulnerable.

Complying with regulation and best practice

The Institute of Fundraising General Principles clause 1.2 e) states that: “Fundraisers MUST take all reasonable steps to treat a donor fairly, enabling them to make an informed decision about any donation. This MUST include taking into account the needs of any potential donor who may be in a vulnerable circumstance or require additional care and support to make an informed decision. ii) Fundraisers MUST NOT exploit the credulity, lack of knowledge, apparent need for care and support or vulnerable circumstance of any donor at any point in time.”

Asthma UK fundraising abides by the four key principles of the Institute of Fundraising’s “Treating Donors Fairly” policy, which are:

“Respect – treating all members of the public respectfully. This means being mindful of, and sensitive to, any particular need that a donor may have. It also means striving to respect the wishes and preferences of the donor, whatever they may be.

Fairness – all donors should be treated fairly. This includes not discriminating against any group or individual based on their appearance or any personal characteristic.

Responsive – this means responding appropriately to the different needs that a donor may have. The onus should be on the fundraiser to adapt his or her approach (tone, language, communication technique) to suit the needs and requirements of the donor.

Accountable – it is up to fundraisers and charities to take responsibility and care to ensure that their fundraising is happening to a high standard. When thinking about ways of communicating with different people and fundraising appropriately, different charities should consider what processes and procedures they may need in place. Charities may want to develop their own internal guidance on this area and consider how to ensure that their fundraisers are appropriately trained and supported.”

Identifying vulnerable people

By ‘a vulnerable adult’, we mean those people who are lacking the ability, either temporarily or permanently, to make an informed decision about donating money to Asthma UK. There are a number of factors which can contribute to vulnerability. Examples of indicators which could mean that an individual is in a vulnerable circumstance or needs additional support could include: 

  • Mental illness and mental capacity concerns  (both permanent and temporary conditions), including dementia and personality disorders
  • Significant physical illness
  • Physical and sensory disability
  • Learning difficulties
  • Times of stress or anxiety (e.g. bereavement, redundancy)
  • Financial vulnerability (where a gift from a donor may impact on their ability to sufficiently care for themselves or leave them in financial hardship)
  • Language barriers
  • Influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Where people live (for example, in supported housing).

It is not feasible to provide a comprehensive set of factors or characteristics which would enable fundraisers to always identify an individual who is in vulnerable circumstances.  We therefore follow the guidance on indicators of vulnerability, laid down by the Institute of Fundraising. This guidance includes:

Indicators that an individual appears confused, such as:  

  • Asking irrelevant and unrelated questions
  • Responding in an irrational way to questions
  • Saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ at times when it is clear they haven’t understood the meaning of what is being discussed.

Indicators that the individual may have physical difficulties, such as:

  • Unable to hear and understand what is being said
  • Unable to read and understand the information they are provided with
  • Displaying signs of ill-health like breathlessness or signs of exasperation or discontent.

Indicative statements that suggest a lack of mental capacity, such as:

  • Saying ‘I don’t usually do things like this, my husband/wife son/daughter takes care of it for me’
  • Having trouble remembering relevant information, for example forgetting that they are already a regular donor to that charity (e.g. have an existing Direct Debit), or have recently donated.

Written communications

We can at times identify vulnerable adults through written communications:

  • A supporter who has emailed or written to us to tell us they are permanently vulnerable (see earlier definitions)
  • Letters we receive from people where their thoughts and wishes are not clear or consistent.  

Family members / carers

We may also be alerted to a supporter being vulnerable by a family member or carer. Where we have been given this information we act upon this, by asking the supporter what kind of communication, if any, is acceptable. .

What we do if we suspect a supporter is vulnerable

We follow the Institute of Fundraising guidance if we suspect that a donor lacks the capacity to make a decision about the donation which states that “a donation should not be taken. If after the donation is taken the charity receives evidence that the person lacked capacity to make the decision to donate, then the charity can and should return the donation because the original donation was invalid. … If a donor is found to lack capacity, the organisation should put in place measures to ensure that donations are not solicited from them in the future.”

Our remuneration policy

The Asthma UK remuneration policy is built on the following principles:

Pay will be competitive so that the charitable objectives can be delivered

It is important to Asthma UK to pay competitive, market-median salaries in the sectors and location  where it employs people. Base pay rates are benchmarked on a continuous, ad-hoc basis through our  recruitment processes against sector pay movements and annually against inflationary indices, and  organisational affordability is considered. Asthma UK competes for labour in a variety of job markets  and so one benchmark is difficult to identify. Relevant sector benchmarks are national health and  medical research charities and charities with raised income of c£10m (as opposed to statutory  funding). Sometimes the wider not-for-profit and public sectors may be considered.

Bonuses linked to individual performance are not awarded. The charity expects everyone to perform to a high standard

Performance related pay does not comprise part of the remuneration at Asthma UK. Rather, Asthma UK’s culture is one where it seeks to employ people who are inspired by the organisation’s charitable  objectives, and an interesting role, to perform to the high standards that the charity’s donors expect. Performance below expectations is managed through a performance management process.

Every employee is different, so every employee’s needs and motivations are different

Asthma UK appreciates that it employs people across a wide age range and with varying lifestyles, so all individuals’ needs will be different. Asthma UK is mindful of this in the construction of its remuneration package.

Asthma UK’s remuneration policy seeks to be fair at both higher and lower ends of the payscale

The charity does not employ interns without pay and pays the Living Wage as a minimum for all staff as defined by location. Remuneration for the Chief Executive and senior managers is approved by the  Remuneration Committee. The remuneration ratio for the charity, defined as the multiple between  the highest pay to median pay in the organisation with regard to external benchmarks, is considered as well as external market conditions for the specific roles.

Asthma UK wishes to remove the barriers to taking up employment due to location

We appreciate that commuting to Asthma UK’s office in London can be expensive, as can living in London to be close to work. It is appreciated that season tickets and tenancy deposits are not easy for everyone to outlay as a lump sum, so Asthma UK is happy to give employees an interest-free loan for either of these purposes, within certain conditions.

Peoples’ working arrangements can be flexible to aid productivity

For many roles, Asthma UK’s normal office hours are nine to five, Monday to Friday, but for some roles this may differ. Regardless, the charity is always open to discussions with staff if they feel that their role can be worked more productively in another way, including arrangements for employees to work partially from home. Asthma UK invests in the infrastructure and hardware in order to effect this way of working.

Asthma UK encourages a work-life balance and encourages regular breaks

Although the charity expects people to be highly productive, it also encourages people to take regular breaks from work. The charity therefore offers 30 days’ paid holiday to all employees from commencement of employment. This is pro-rata for part time workers and new joiners.

Remuneration must be simple and cost-effective to administer

Procuring certain benefits (eg. gym membership and health screening) for an organisation of Asthma UK’s size is administratively time-consuming and deemed not to be the best use of charitable resources.

Asthma UK has strong governance structures in place to ensure remuneration is managed in line with best practice

The Remuneration Committee is a Board Sub-Committee of Trustees. It meets regularly to review remuneration policy, the remuneration ratio and provide scrutiny to remuneration decisions e.g. annual pay award and remuneration of highly paid staff.

Asthma UK is transparent in remuneration reporting

Asthma UK complies with the regulatory requirement to report the number of highly paid staff in their Annual Report and Accounts. In addition, Asthma UK will consider best practice guidance of the NVCO in respect of remuneration reporting.

Trustees receive reasonable expenses only

In line with the Asthma UK Articles of Association, the only payments Trustees receive from Asthma UK are in respect of reasonable expenses incurred on Asthma UK business, generally travel to and from meetings. Trustees are also expected to report hospitality received as a result of their position at Asthma UK. The Remuneration Committee reviews all expenses and hospitality declarations and satisfies itself that these were incurred in line with the provisions of the Articles and in the normal course of Trustee duties.

Partnerships Policy

In March 2019, the Trustees agreed to cease the corporate membership programme with pharmaceutical companies with immediate effect. Asthma UK will no longer partner with pharmaceutical companies or accept any financial (or non-financial) incentives. Asthma UK has always adhered to the principles outlined in its partnership policy and will not partner with any third party that would compromise the independent status of Asthma UK or conflict with its strategic aims. The previous decision to work with or accept money from pharmaceuticals has always been carefully considered and only entered into if the partnership followed the principles outlined in the policy. However, the Trustees agreed that for complete transparency and independence, these partnerships will now stop.

Asthma UK's partnership policy is currently being reviewed and will be updated to reflect the new principles.


Asthma UK’s mission is to stop asthma attacks, and cure asthma. We are pleased to work in partnership with external organisations and individuals where such partnerships support our mission. We believe that it is critical to only work with external stakeholders on activities for which we share strategic aims and that these be rooted in the needs of people with asthma.

Asthma UK embraces positive and transparent relationships with external individuals and organisations, including those who have a commercial interest in asthma, such as pharmaceutical companies that manufacture and market drugs and treatments, health technology companies that develop tools to aid the management of asthma and other organisations involved in the development of diagnostic technologies and other equipment for people with asthma.

Asthma UK recognises that whilst working with external organisations and individuals presents a range of valuable opportunities it also presents risks, and it is therefore necessary to carefully consider all aspects of our relationships with partners. Specifically, commercial organisations are not charitable and whilst their interests and objectives often overlap with those of Asthma UK, they are still distinct.

The purpose of this policy is to set the principles as to how Asthma UK engages with external individuals and organisations to ensure that all partnerships are consistent with our organisational objectives, conducted with transparency, and do not compromise Asthma UK’s integrity or independence.

Rationale for Partnership

Asthma UK will accept financial and non-financial support from, and work in partnership with, external organisations and individuals provided that all of the following criteria are satisfied:

a) There are strong grounds for believing the activity will result in a benefit to people living with or affected by asthma, either directly or indirectly

b) The Chief Executive and Trustees are satisfied that adverse publicity is unlikely to result from accepting such support

c) There is no attempt on the part of the company or individual to influence Asthma UK policy or actions either explicitly or implicitly and Asthma UK is a substantive partner in the activity

d) That initiatives do not compromise the independent status of Asthma UK

e) The activity contributes to the prevailing Asthma UK strategy

Such partnerships may take different forms and the benefits gained by Asthma UK will vary but may include:

f) Generating income for Asthma UK

g) Disseminating Asthma UK health messages to audiences not normally reached
h) Gathering insights into people with asthma

i) Influencing the development of products designed to help people with asthma to maximum effect

j) Creating high level industry partnerships that allow us to collectively engage and influence national policy

k) Leveraging more funding into research projects supported by Asthma UK

l) Accelerating asthma related drug discovery

m) Defraying Asthma UK costs through ‘gifts in kind’

Partnership Principles

a) Partnerships will not compromise the independent status of Asthma UK nor Asthma UK’s ability to speak freely and comprehensively. No contractual relationships will be entered which contradicts this principle.

b) All partnerships must meet the criteria and conditions outlined in this policy and will be subject to a full risk assessment and formal approval process.

c) Asthma UK welcomes opportunities to raise funds and awareness through cause related marketing and sponsorship. However, Asthma UK will not endorse any third party, nor its products or services.

d) No partnership will be entered into with an organisation whose product or service is considered to be detrimental to people with asthma, nor any organisation who makes claims that their product or service benefits people with asthma and which Asthma UK considers to be unsubstantiated.

e) Asthma UK will not accept financial support from, or partner with, companies that are involved with the manufacture of tobacco and smoking related products.

f) Asthma UK will enter into written agreements with all companies that it works with to protect its brand and intellectual property, and will ensure that the relationship is not subject to any conditions that prevent Asthma UK from acting in the best interests of people with asthma. Asthma UK will not engage with companies where the cost of a lengthy contracting and negotiating process outweighs the potential benefits of the partnership.

g) In respect of research, partnerships must contribute to Asthma UK’s prevailing Research Strategy and meet the principle of funding, promoting or enabling best quality research.

h) Sponsorship of Asthma UK core, stand-alone health advice products will be considered by exception only and would be subject to trustee approval.

i) The total amount of financial support from corporate partners will not exceed 20% of Asthma UK’s total budgeted income excluding legacies for the financial year, nor 10% from any one corporate partner. Any proposed exception to this will be subject to trustee approval.

4. Principles specific to pharmaceutical companies and other companies who have a commercial interest in asthma

Asthma UK embraces positive and transparent relationships with stakeholders who have an interest in asthma, and these may include pharmaceutical companies that manufacture and market drugs and treatments, health technology companies that develop tools to aid the management of asthma and other companies involved in the development of diagnostic technologies and other equipment for people with asthma (referred to collectively as “Industry”). Any such partnership will be based on the following principles in addition to those listed above:

a) Partnerships with pharmaceutical companies will comply with the ABPI Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry – Relationships with Patient Organisations. Partnerships with UK pharmaceutical companies which are not members of the ABPI would only be considered by exception and with approval of Trustees.

b) Where activities being supported by Industry are linked to influencing or campaigning activities, Asthma UK will seek to work with a minimum of two partners in order to maintain, and be seen to maintain, independence and impartiality.

c) There may be occasions where Asthma UK will campaign for equitable access to a treatment for people with asthma. Funding will never be accepted from pharmaceutical companies to support campaigning activity for any individual products. However, campaigning may be in respect of a class of medicine produced and promoted by pharmaceutical companies which have previously funded Asthma UK and the reputational risk will be considered before undertaking such activity.

d) Asthma UK employees will attend key UK and global respiratory events such as the European Respiratory Society Congress and the American Thoracic Society Conference and Asthma UK may accept reimbursement of registration fees from Industry to attend these events but not hospitality or subsistence.

e) Asthma UK will consider requests from Industry to participate in company hosted advisory board meetings or workshops but employees will not attend such events unless their involvement will contribute to Asthma UK’s prevailing strategy and workplans. No payment will be accepted for attending such events.

f) Asthma UK employees may accept education and training provided through engagement with industry and which, where provided by pharmaceutical companies, is covered by ABPI rules.

g) This policy does not cover activities carried out by Asthma UK employees working in other capacities unconnected to Asthma UK.

Last updated September 2017