Board governance
June 27th, 2017 by Luke Strachan

This blog first appeared on the Charity Bank website in June 2017.

Finding ways to strengthen your board is never easy and there is no single solution that will work for every board.

To be more effective, however, boards do need to ask themselves searching questions regarding:

  • their own performance
  • their collective skills and abilities
  • how they can best anticipate the needs of the organisation, in the near and long-term future.

A good board makes all the difference to your charity’s future. Poor governance can lead to loss of strategic focus and ineffective oversight of a charity’s management. On the other hand, a strong board will create a shared vision, renewed purpose and ensure that the charity makes the right strategic decisions. Only the board itself can improve its governance, so it is important that it takes this responsibility seriously.

1. Reflecting on the Code of Good Governance

Creating a time and space in which your board can collectively reflect on their work is absolutely essential for ensuring that you are carrying out your duties properly.

The Code of Good Governance is a wonderful tool to help you do this. The Code centres on seven key themes:

  • Organisation purpose & direction
  • Leadership
  • Integrity
  • Decision making
  • Risk & control
  • Diversity
  • Board effectiveness and accountability.

By adopting the Code, board members are committing to a shared understanding of their duties and responsibilities as well as gaining a framework with which to structure a thorough, self-reflective and on-going analysis of their work.

It’s worth noting that inviting an external expert to facilitate the process (either an experienced volunteer or paid consultant) can enhance this process, providing additional impartiality and objectivity especially useful to a board reviewing itself for the first time.

2. Regular skills audits

Making sure that the board is aware of the skill sets it has and those it needs should also be an on-going process. You should set aside a time at least once a year to appraise your composition in relation to anticipated projects and plans.

This will allow you to clearly see where the organisation is going and what expertise you will need, as well as helping you to intelligently anticipate challenges and opportunities.

3. Strong recruitment and induction processes

Recruitment isn’t just about bringing on board valuable new expertise, it’s a process that implicitly sets the tone, culture and expectations of the board.

A strong recruitment process should include open recruitment, induction, training, mentorship and support. These factors combine to directly demonstrate to new trustees how it is they are expected to contribute their expertise and will ultimately result in more engaged, conscientious and capable trustee placements.

There are many free ways to promote your trustee opportunities beyond your own networks including Reach’s TrusteeWorks, CharityJob, Indeed, Do-It’s Trustee Finder, and nonexecutivedirectors.com

4. Create a succession plan

As most trustees well know, recruitment is an on-going process. All too often it can feel like, just as one trustee joins the board, another is preparing to leave. Anticipating this by coaching and mentoring existing trustees to take on important roles such as those of Chair and Treasurer can be a great way of limiting the impact of trustees leaving.

It’s a good idea to make plans for finding suitable replacements for retiring trustees well in advance so they can hand-over their responsibilities and duties properly.

A succession plan is also a great way to avoid the opposite challenge: too little turnover. Trustees should not stay on forever – bringing new trustees on board with fresh perspectives is healthy part of the organisation’s development and should be an integral part of your board’s strategic planning.

5. Training, development and networking

Whilst many boards may not have a budget for training their trustees, you should at least consider some of the courses and networking opportunities out there.

You don’t have to spend your entire governance budget to receive guidance from an expert: Small Charities Coalition, Civil Society and NCVO all offer great opportunities to learn from experts and other trustees.

Similarly, joining appropriate professional and support networks like the Association of Chairs and The Honorary Treasurers Forum can be great ways of meeting and learning from your peers. By joining the UK Charity Trustees group on LinkedIn you can connect directly with an active and friendly online community that is always willing to respond to questions with support and guidance. In addition, annual events like The Trustees Conference and the Trustee Exchange can also be helpful.

6. Constructive criticism & critical friends

Fostering a culture in which trustees are empowered to constructively challenge each other is the cornerstone of a well functioning board. Whilst it’s always incredibly important to respect each other’s opinions, avoiding awkwardness by not addressing potential issues with a given strategy can potentially lead the organisation down a far more precarious path.

Cultivating a culture in which all board members are empowered to challenge each other’s assumptions is a great way of making sure that strategies are tested and re-tested before being implemented and executed. This process is equally important for the Chair’s relationship with the CEO which should include support and challenge in equal measure.

Allowing board members the opportunity to voice their opinions and to challenge each other’s ideas not only reinforces inclusiveness, but can stimulate new ideas, uncover hidden pitfalls and generally refine an organisation’s strategy like no other discursive process.

Luke heads up Reach’s TrusteeWorks team

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Charity Governance Award Winners 2017
May 24th, 2017 by Janet Thorne

The stories from this year’s Charity Governance Awards winners and entrants are a vivid illustration of the difference a good board can make. They tell of boards that have brought fresh thinking,  integrity and a clear vision to their charity’s work, strengthened its impact and, sometimes, averted disaster. The charities themselves range from tiny to large, and their causes are diverse. The governance categories they entered include digital, diversity, impact and turnaround.

They are all stories of great leadership, exercised as a team, for a common cause.

This is quite at odds with the way that we, as a sector, usually talk about trusteeship. Often the focus is on the fiduciary and the language is all compliance, liability, duty. For a long time, I was deeply uninterested in anything to do with trusteeship: it had a fusty, almost Dickensian connotation, and the link between trustees and the work of the charity – the difference it made – seemed tenuous.

However, as the entrants for this year’s awards (and last year’s too) clearly demonstrate, good governance involves so much more than just getting the basics of compliance and scrutiny right.

Keeping hold of the bigger picture

A common theme of these stories is of trustees keeping hold of the bigger picture and not being afraid to think afresh about how their focus should shift in the context of a changing world. In some cases this meant deciding to narrow their remit to key strategic activity, and stopping anything that did not contribute to this. (This can be so hard to do in practice!) Dementia UK decided to focus on exclusively providing care through specialist Admiral Nurses. For others this meant broadening their mission to create a more holistic approach. For example, Off The Record expanded its work from providing counselling services for young people to a mental health service for the same audience. Body & Soul widened the focus of its services from young people with HIV to a broader range of beneficiaries. Always, the board were careful to keep true to the overall purpose of the charity, and to the needs of service users.

Another strand (and a refreshing change from the stereotype of risk averse boards) is the willingness of the trustees to be ready to try new things where this helps them achieve their goals. Voluntary Arts’ BAME Advisory Panel incorporated shared meals into their meetings to help build inclusivity, Raise the Roof has embedded the use of several off-the-shelf platforms to deliver services and increase participation at board level. There are stories of boards taking bold decisions, based on calculated risk to achieve more – for example, Preston Road Women’s Centre took advantage of the Empty Homes Partnership to develop a new programme providing safe accommodation for women escaping domestic abuse.

Collective and collaborative action

The entrants share an evident belief in the value of collective, and collaborative, action; a willingness to look outwards and work in partnership with other organisations. There is also a real seriousness: clarity about the change that the board wants to achieve and determination to draw on the right information and processes to achieve this. These are boards who are interested in the impact of their organisation’s work, who seek evidence of the difference their service makes and take corrective action where necessary. They are also boards who are willing to step up to the plate when the going gets tough. Witness the courage and commitment shown by the trustees of Kentish Town City Farm when faced with a seemingly hopeless situation.

Seeing is believing

These stories are important for three reasons. They show how there is more to being a trustee than scrutinising accounts. They also offer a counterpoint to the bad press that governance has had in the last couple of years – the plethora of stories about people doing it wrong and a focus on the ‘problems of governance’. This negative focus is problematic, and not only because it creates an unbalanced picture of trusteeship. It actually contributes to the problem: underlying much of the existing bad governance. From poor trustee recruitment to lack of board engagement, there is a lack of appreciation of, or even belief in, the difference that a good board can make to a charity. Sharing examples of good governance is one of the most powerful ways to help people to understand the value of good trusteeship. It makes it tangible. These stories demonstrate that good governance really does matter, that it really is possible, and that it is worth striving to achieve. So, please read and enjoy these stories, and share them widely.

The Charity Governance Awards is organised by the Clothworkers’ Company, in partnership with Reach Volunteering, NPC and Prospectus.

The winners were announced at a ceremony at the Clothworkers Hall in London on Wednesday 24 May 2017.

Janet Thorne leads Reach as Chief Executive

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House of Lords recommends digital trustees on Boards
March 27th, 2017 by Janet Thorne

 

We are really pleased to read the recommendation in the House of Lords Select Committee on Charities report, that charities should have a digital trustee. If charities are going to really engage with digital (and they really must!) they need leadership that understands the opportunities as well as the risks. Boards that do not understand how digital is changing the world that their charity operates in will never invest sufficiently in it. Having a trustee with expertise in this area can make a big difference.

A source of digital trustees

Reach launched a programme last year to tackle this very issue. Supported by the Charity Commission, Zoe Amar and IBM, building boards for a digital age provides charities with the guidance, inspiration, and, most crucially, a pool of keen, prospective digital trustees. We have recruited some great candidates, but the uptake from charities has been slower. Research last year found that trustees ranked digital skills as the most needed on their boards. And yet this skill set remains one of the least demanded in our trustee recruitment service, despite our campaign. Perhaps boards find it all a bit daunting?

Elsewhere the report seeks to encourage a stream of more diverse and skilled trustees, recommending that ’employers should be encouraged to give greater recognition to trustee roles in recruitment and progression of their staff’. This would be great – but from where we sit, there is also a need to encourage charities themselves to invest a bit more time and effort in how they recruit trustees. Not many charities do it well. How you recruit is a key part of getting the right people, with the right motivations. The traditional tap on the shoulder approach is problematic not just because it limits diversity, but also because it fosters a ‘hobbyist’ culture.

The supply of willing trustees is only part of the problem.

Volunteers can bridge the gap

The report also looks more broadly at how charities are taking to digital. This is the third report published in one week which focuses on this issue – see Lloyds Bank Foundation’s Facing Forward report on smaller charities, and Charity Digital Skills which hones in on the sector’s lack of digital skills. The Committee’s recommendation that the Big Lottery provides support to infrastructure bodies  ‘to share knowledge and best practice on innovation and digitalisation’ is very welcome. The suggestion that the tech sector provides training and development opportunities is also right. However, I think that the report misses a trick by not seeing the connection with volunteering. There are many people with the right expertise willing to donate their skills for a social purpose, and they could play a big role helping smaller charities develop their capability and capacity. Volunteers could help breach the digital skills gap.

On the subject of volunteering, the report takes the enlightened and all-too-rare approach of recognising that the chief challenge is not in finding more volunteers, but in finding sustainable ways to support and manage them.

‘Investing in volunteers is a way of respecting their contribution as well as increasing their value to the charity’, says the report.

I couldn’t agree more! However, I think that the report’s exclusive emphasis on volunteer managers is wrong.

Many smaller charities do not have a dedicated volunteer manager because volunteers are embedded within different teams, and centralising the role may not be appropriate. The answer is more investment in volunteer recruitment and management, regardless of organisation structure.

Throughout, the report keeps the needs of small charities in its sights, and makes many welcome recommendations about governance, finance and commissioning. Infrastructure organisations are called on to do quite a bit more, although there is scant reference to the fact that many are dwindling or have closed altogether. Still, recognition of their role is something.

Reach will continue to run its programme, supporting charities to recruit trustees that can help embed digital at a strategic level. We will also encourage charities to recruit volunteers that can lend their expertise to implementation.

We are pleased that the House of Lords Charity Select Committee report has helped focus attention on digital, and particularly on digital trustees. We hope that more charities will now act on this recommendation.

Janet Thorne leads Reach as Chief Executive

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five ways to imrpove your career with trusteeship
September 26th, 2016 by Luke Strachan

In recent years there has been a lot of research on the benefits of volunteering, both on a personal and professional level and there is even compelling research suggesting that it is literally good for our health. Trusteeship, however, is a unique form of volunteering and brings its own distinct brand of challenge and reward. With up to 50 per cent of charities currently having vacancies on their boards and with charities facing unprecedented challenges, let’s revisit some of the many reasons everyone should consider joining a charity board.

1. Contributing to a great cause

There’s no doubt that being a trustee is one of the most powerful ways in which you can contribute to your local community or to a cause you really care about. As a trustee, you play an integral part in the good governance of a charity, not only ensuring that the organisation remains viable and sustainable but ensuring that it adheres closely to its mission and works in the interests of its beneficiaries. These days, corporations of all sizes are taking voluntary and community enriching activities much more seriously with trusteeship considered one of the most effective methods of professional development and community engagement available to employees.

2. Strategic experience

Strategic experience can be hard to come by in the work place and it can often take decades to find yourself in a role which requires strategic oversight. Trusteeship is a fantastic way of getting a head start on this, at once giving you the opportunity to develop and hone your critical thinking, problem-solving and analytical skills as well as developing vital strategic sensibilities and team working skills. There’s no doubt that the strategic experience which can be gained through trusteeship can have an immediate and powerful impact upon your career, opening doors to new responsibilities and more senior job prospects.

3. Professional networks

Surrounding yourself with a wide variety of professional contacts is one of the best things you can do for your career. Ensuring that you have access to good people from diverse professional backgrounds can be useful on so many levels. Whether it’s seeking advice on a current work place predicament or scoping out opportunities for the next step in your career progression, being a trustee can open up your professional network in all kinds of unforeseen and advantageous ways that will only become clear once you have taken the leap!

4. Developing skills and experience

Being a trustee can be a very interesting experience, not least because it allows you to adapt and apply everything you have learned in your day job to an entirely new context. Through trusteeship you can gain a clearer idea of your own professional strengths and weaknesses whilst simultaneously learning altogether new skills. Understanding how to adapt your professional knowledge to useful ends within a charity is a good reminder of your own versatility, giving you confidence in your existing abilities whilst challenging you push the boundaries of your expertise.

5. Team working

It is often the case that so called ‘soft skills’ are eclipsed by a charity’s requirement to have a well rounded set of skills in the board room. However, communication and people skills are just as important and, in some cases, more so. The ability to collaborate effectively with others, to constructively challenge the ideas of fellow trustees as well as those of the CEO and senior management is essential to ensuring that the board’s strategic decisions are scrutinised and tested before being implemented. Negotiating, empathising, listening and clearly communicating ideas and concerns are huge factors in this process and often help to set the tone and culture of board meetings. All of this is essential to positive, forward thinking and efficient charity governance, but it’s also a fantastic opportunity to develop sound judgement and interpersonal skills that will improve your prospects whatever career path you happen to be on.

Becoming a trustee is a fantastic and fascinating way to engage in the charity sector. It’s a role which will give back just as much as you put in and often much, much more. Though often challenging, trusteeship will reward the adventurous and ambitious with a wealth of personal and professional skills and connections which will stand you in good stead throughout your career whilst empowering you with a new sense of purpose and prospect.

Tempted? Visit www.reachskills.org.uk and find the role for you. Got digital skills? www.digitalboards.org.uk might be for you.

Luke heads up Reach’s TrusteeWorks team

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April 6th, 2016 by Janet Thorne

Scarcely a week seems to go by without some bad news story about charity governance. Kids Company, fundraising scandals, harsh words from a House of Commons Committee; there has been a stream of news articles illustrating how bad governance can be and the terrible implications of this. And yes, bad governance is clearly a serious problem.

But is this a fair picture of governance in the sector? No! There are many truly amazing but unsung boards out there, steering their charities through perilous waters with good judgement, great courage and lots of hard work.

How do I know this? Because I have just been reading through examples of many such boards. I have had the privilege to be one of the judges in the inaugural Charity Governance Awards. Together with many much wiser heads than mine, we shortlisted from over 100 entries, and the calibre was truly impressive. We were looking for boards which had shown real leadership in improving impact, embracing opportunity and risk, demonstrating diversity and inclusion, or turning around their charity’s fortunes.

It was a humbling and inspiring experience: instances of trustees making tough decisions for the long term, going the extra mile to create vibrant, diverse boards, seizing new opportunities without betraying the charity’s values, to name but a few.

Whilst the challenges and the responses varied widely (as did the nature and size of the charities), all showed great commitment and leadership. They seemed to me to demonstrate the personal qualities of good trustees, as outlined by charity lawyer Philip Kirkpatrick recently: conscientiousness, inquisitiveness, courage and judgement – meshed with effective challenge.

Of course there are cases of poor governance, and we should study them closely. But there are also many cases of brilliant governance, and we can, perhaps, learn even more from them. Certainly we should be sharing these stories to bring balance to the flow of bad news and to remind ourselves that the charity sector has much to be proud of.

I am looking forward to 12 May when the winners will be announced and we can celebrate their success. But, even more so, I am eagerly anticipating sharing the stories of the shortlisted through an ebook that will be compiled soon afterwards. There are wonderful Boards out there, and we all deserve to know about them!

Janet Thorne leads Reach as Chief Executive

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TrusteesWeek
November 12th, 2014 by Bilwa Iyer

Have you recently applied to a trustee position but struggled to write a cover letter? Do you often feel that you don’t know where to start or have even questioned the importance of one?

You are not alone!

As a trustee recruiter, I regularly receive emails and calls asking me these questions – from aspiring and seasoned trustees alike.

Is a cover letter important? My response to this is a very strong yes! Charities have different causes and organisations want to ensure their cause is championed by the most effective and passionate people. Hence a cover letter is the first step in displaying that you are this person!

While a CV tends to give a sketch of your work history, a cover letter helps you showcase your personality and contribution as a trustee.

 

What you need to remember when writing a trustee cover letter

To begin with, it may be useful to know that trustee cover letters are slightly different from professional ones in both format and tone. Trustee cover letters are simple, have flexible formats and are content focused. They tend to be less business like and more personable. The other important thing to remember is that leaving out a cover letter in a trustee application process is not an option.

Writing such cover letters may seem daunting at first however with little exploration this can be easily accomplished.

These letters basically ask for three key elements:

  1. Your reasons for being drawn to a cause
  2. How you can contribute to the cause as a trustee
  3. Your fit and alignment with the organisation

So, taking this into account, how can you draft a cover letter that will have an impact?

 

Show your commitment and passion

Once you have selected a charity with a trustee position you want to apply for, you must show your reasons for wanting to get involved, demonstrating your passion for the cause and your commitment to get – and perhaps more importantly stay – involved. Therefore begin your application by getting to the heart of your charity and knowing what sort of organisation it is and how it runs.

A charity’s website is a good place to start background research. Sometimes trustee job descriptions won’t tell you enough to get started, so I’d seek help from your contacts or brokering agencies such as Reach to help you gain access to clients, annual reports or answer any initial questions you may have.

Example 1: This example highlights how personal experiences can be aligned to charitable objectives and professional expertise. It highlights how one’s life experience can turn into a passion for a cause and an organisation and also demonstrates why the individual wants to get involved:

I have pleasure in attaching my CV to apply as a Trustee for Campaigning and Advocacy for XX charity.

I have followed your organisation and admired your work for several years now. I was motivated to apply for this trustee role having been diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy where I was severely hospitalised. Following this experience I realised how much more awareness was needed amongst the general public and what to watch out for. I would therefore love to apply my skills, expertise and passion towards your organisation and helping to steer it towards even greater success.

I served for six years as a trustee for the national charity YY which I found extremely rewarding notably in extending their membership base. I am committed to ensuring that I give the best I can to any organisation I get involved with. I believe I am well-suited to the role as I have significant experience of national campaigning to a target audience, including the execution of multi-channel marketing campaigns.

A charity wants to know that any trustee who joins them will be a valuable asset who will be able to give their time, commitment and passion so if you can show this, you will be in a strong position.

 

Showcase your experience and skills

Clients are looking for candidates who can demonstrate their contribution as trustees. You need to highlight your professional skills and expertise and show what you will bring to the board. A trustee board should ideally have a mix of different skills, mindsets and experience to show diversity and ensure balance. You need to show in your cover letter what skills you have. When attempting to write down your contribution as a trustee, tailor your letter around the job and person specification.

Example 2 – This is an example of a thorough cover letter which provides a holistic and clear overview of all their skills:

I believe myself to be competent in this area and can offer the very specific skills and experience you are looking for:

  • Audit, Finance & Risk Management – I am a member of the Governance & Audit Committees at YY and I have contributed to the Board’s consideration of Governance arrangements by …
  • High Level Financial Competence – I am a qualified accountant with a broad base of finance skills but also have the experience to take a lead role in XX.

I can demonstrate dedication to the role and can meet the time commitment to read all papers, prepare for, attend and contribute to meetings in line with the work of the finance and audit committee. I can also undertake to attend training and development and engage pro-actively in the induction process.

  • I can analyse complex information and reach sensible conclusions by demonstrating the ability to communicate effectively with a diverse range of people in a constructive manner.
  • I can work with others effectively and believe teamwork enhances overall performance and can lead to better decisions and services.

In terms of personal qualities:

  • I am able to demonstrate a sharing to the values including that of probity in public life and can also demonstrate a commitment to your charity’s cultural elements …
  • I have a ‘duty of care’ ethos which is at the heart of everything I do and I believe investing in a diverse workforce enables better performance and a more inclusive customer service.

This is an example of a clear cover letter which shows instantly how they align to the needs of the organisation. As with job applications, trustee positions can get a number of applicants so make sure you stand out!

 

Explain why you would be a good fit in the organisation

Clients are looking for people who can fit into their culture. Make use of relevant and transferable abilities and personal experiences. This is where any personal research you have done and any preliminary client conversations you have had will make you stand out.

Trustee vacancies are aligned to charity objectives and you may find as you write about your professional experience that it doesn’t quite fit the job description… don’t worry though! Make your cover letter unique by highlighting your transferable skills from your workplace along with your personal experiences, to show what you would bring to the role.

Example 2 – Here’s an example of a cover letter that showcases the skills acquired in the commercial sector tailored to the third sector:

I am currently looking for an opportunity to use my expertise to support a not-for-profit organisation, as for the first time in my business life I am able to commit the time necessary to offer my skills as a trustee in an environment where I can bring real value to a board.

I was drawn to XX charity opportunity, as a stated role requirement was the ‘evaluation of complex information, assisting to build consensus and robust governance within the board group’ – which dovetails well with my skills gained over many years in the analysis of complex (often financial) information required in the acquisition, restructuring and improving of operations I have undertaken in many differing arenas.

I have been a Director for many years and have experience in both SME and large international PLC operations. I feel that one of the key strengths I could bring to the trustee board is in negotiation, having spent my entire working life in a commercial environment, negotiating with contractors and suppliers. I am particularly looking for a role where I can bring relevant experience to the table to strengthen the skills base of the existing board.

A charity needs to have people who fit into their organisation whilst at the same time challenging them to reach their full potential. So try to describe how you will fit as well as how you can contribute as a trustee.

 

In summary

I believe that even the most distinguished CVs need cover letters for trustee vacancies. The above examples of cover letters are in no way exhaustive however, they show effective ways to highlight your relevant skills, passion and experience that any charity would need. Remember the three key elements and steps for trustee applications to guide you and you should craft a cover letter that wows.

I am happy to review any cover letters you are looking to send, so please contact me. As a trustee recruiter with Reach I’m committed to help you find a role that fits you.

With a background in HR, Bilwa is a Trustee Recruiter in Reach’s TrusteeWorks team. She has recently joined the Board at The Abbeyfield Society George Brooker House.

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NUS logo
March 26th, 2014 by Luke Strachan

TrusteeWorks from Reach is delighted to announce that we are now a preferred supplier of National Union of Students (NUS) regarding our trustee recruitment services.

Having  had great success in our work with students’ unions over the last few years, the TrusteeWorks team is excited to be moving forward with NUS in a more formal capacity as preferred supplier.

We are confident that this relationship will give us the opportunity to help many more students’ unions source fantastic external trustees.

Luke heads up Reach’s TrusteeWorks team

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2014 Calendar
January 22nd, 2014 by Madeleine Boomgaarden

Reach Volunteering has entered 2014 on a strong note! We have secured long-term funding from institutions like GlaxoSmithKline and City Bridge Trust and plan to introduce iReach, our new web-based platform. This will dramatically increase the volume, range and quality of skilled volunteering across the U.K.

iReach will come into service this summer, building an online community where charities and skilled volunteers meet, interact, and find their ideal match. It will create an increased number of matches and significantly reduce Reach’s transaction costs.

Reach had an excellent 2013 helping to place 20% more skilled volunteers than in the previous year, representing an estimated value of £8mn worth of skills transferred into the sector.

A Reach highlight was the decision to make our Trusteeworks Matching Service free from 1 November for charities with an annual turnover of less than £1mn. This led to a 150% increase in demand for the service.

There was a huge surge in volunteer registrations in the second half of the year, with an average of 167 new volunteers joining the Reach register every month, double the amount for the same period last year!

Charities continually need to fill vacancies in key roles, particularly as trustees. Reach, as the U.K’s leading skilled volunteering charity has been providing this invaluable service for more than 30 years. Our placement advisors are widely respected for their expertise and enthusiasm in finding the right match between skilled volunteer and charity.

Madeleine was Reach’s Marketing Manager until August 2014

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TrusteesWeek
November 4th, 2013 by Luke Strachan

The recruitment of trustees is something that all charities do differently. However, there are a number of mistakes which, as a recruitment expert in the field, I see cropping up again and again.

Trustees’ Week is a great time to examine them.

1) Sparse or weakly constructed role description
This is probably the most common problem with a recruitment process. The most qualified professionals seeking trustee roles can be as discerning as they like: they look for role descriptions that stand out from the crowd and many will only apply to those roles that are carefully crafted: grammar, clarity, purpose, incentive, interest and scope are all aspects of your role which will be judged.

Many organisations now create attractive information packs to ensure that their role catches the eye of prospective trustees and this is a very effective tactic. Remember, the quality of your role description reflects the quality of the organisations work.

2) Unwillingness to spend money on the recruitment process
It is a common misconception that volunteers work for free.

Of course, volunteers are not paid but that doesn’t mean that they don’t consume resources: expenses, training, management time all contribute to a cost. A lot of charities believe that, because a trustee is unpaid, their recruitment should also incur no cost, despite the fact that it takes time to draft a role description (and even more to create an info pack). Equally, dealing with applications, shortlisting, interview and induction all take a toll of resources.

As such, organisations should not see investing in good trustees as wasted resources but rather, a solid investment which will pay dividends if done right.

3) Thinking outside the box
Charities who struggle to find the ideal candidate are often looking at their applicants without creativity. For example, a charity seeking a fundraising trustee may overlook candidates who have an extensive back ground in marketing, yet, in many instances, fundraising is a form of targeted marketing.

In short, flexibility and a view to recruiting people with transferable skills and determination may often prove as effective (and sometimes even more so) than a candidate who ticks all the boxes but has limited time or passion for the role.

Luke heads up Reach’s TrusteeWorks team

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TrusteeWorks
October 23rd, 2013 by Madeleine Boomgaarden

Reach’s Trusteeworks Matching Service will be free from 1 November 2013 for charities with an annual turnover of under £1 million. Reach believes that removing the entry level charge of £75 for smaller charities, who have limited funds for recruiting, will make a big difference by helping them to strengthen their boards.

Strong boards, with a sufficient breadth of experience and skills, are crucial for charities facing difficult decisions in an uncertain economic climate. The ability to recruit outside a charity’s immediate networks by using a service like Reach is an important factor in this process.

The Trusteeworks Matching Service provides a free, high-quality introduction to skilled volunteers. The trustee role appears on Reach’s register of available trustee opportunities, and Reach’s recruitment teams search their extensive register of available volunteers, sound out candidates and forward suitable names to the charity.

In addition to the Matching Service, Reach offers the Trusteeworks Matching Plus Service and the Trusteeworks Premium Service which provide additional features such as preparing advertising copy for the role and in-depth screening and briefing of candidates.

Reach is the biggest recruiter of trustees in the UK having placed nearly 750 with charities all over the country since the launch of Trusteeworks in October 2009, including 185 in 2012 and 142 so far this year. Overall, Reach placed 500 volunteers in 2012 representing an estimated value of £9 million worth of skills transferred into the charity sector, and registered over 1,000 new volunteers and more than 1,100 placement opportunities with charities.

Madeleine was Reach’s Marketing Manager until August 2014

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