Reach is excited to announce a new partnership with Community Impact Bucks (CIB). Through this partnership skilled volunteering vacancies in Buckinghamshire will be streamed live on Community Impact Bucks’ dedicated volunteering website. This will make roles easier to find and more prominent.
As the accredited Volunteer Centre for Buckinghamshire, Community Impact Bucks promotes volunteering, and also helps and advises organisations to find the volunteers they need.
Posting vacancies for trustees and other skills-based volunteers will give local charities and non-profit organisations access to the thousands of skilled volunteers registered with Reach. CIB will also continue to promote Reach to prospective volunteers in Buckinghamshire.
Nick Phillips, CIB chief executive, says: ‘We are really excited about our new partnership with Reach. They have over 35 years of experience of making worthwhile connections between charities and experienced volunteers. I know this will be of real benefit to our local organisations.’
Janet Thorne, Reach chief executive officer, adds: ‘Our volunteers can make a real difference to a charity or non-profit group. They have several years of experience and a huge range of expertise. They are interested in using it to have a positive impact in communities and society. I’m thrilled that charities and organisations in Buckinghamshire will benefit from our new partnership.’
The trustee and skills-based vacancy streaming will be going live this spring. In the meantime, Buckinghamshire organisations are encouraged to make use of Reach and to post all appropriate vacancies on the Reach website.
Susana Morgado Gomez shares her experience of how being a trustee benefits both volunteer and charity.
‘Every year Mind In Camden provides a range of services to some 1,000 people with serious mental health needs and the staff who work with them, in partnership with national and local organisations, and the NHS.
‘I work in the banking sector and wanted to use my skills to make a contribution to a cause I believe in, as well as increase my Board exposure in a different sector. Mind In Camden were looking for a new trustee who, along with financial acumen, would bring strategic skills. They really wanted someone that shared the charity’s values, especially around the core principle of seeing mental health as a continuum on which we are all at different points, at different times in our lives. This means there is no ‘us’ (= well) and ‘them’ ( = ill).
‘In joining Mind In Camden as a trustee, I feel I am making a contribution to an organisation where people are very passionate about their work, but are working under very different circumstances and resources to my day job.
This is a highly complementary experience to the commercial and financial background that I have.
‘Being a trustee is a strategic role, it is not a day to day role, and it’s important to understand the difference. Trustees are ultimately accountable to the public and regulators – so it is important that the fit is right between the charity, the trustee and the chief executive.
‘From a practical perspective a trustee is expected to attend and actively contribute to effective Board meetings and decision making, in his or her area of core competence. A considerable part of the trustee role is about self-education in the sector and the charity to which he or she belongs. This is paramount to help you support and challenge the management team, as necessary. The support angle is very important to maintaining the motivation of the team, but it is equally important to challenge, helping them recognise any blind spots and mitigate risk, or not miss opportunities.
Additionally, a Trustee is a representative of the Charity and should not only be available to represent the charity as required, but also act as an Ambassador for the organisation.
‘In this particular experience I enjoy the different kind of environment and diverse background of the Board – the diversity contributes to you growing as an individual and a professional. In joining a team like the Board of a charity, you have to adapt to contribute – and use your transferable skills.
‘Being a trustee is an extremely personal experience that requires passion and energy. It is very rewarding and very energising.’
For more information on Mind services visit Mind In Camden.
To find a trustee or a trustee role, visit Reach Volunteering.
Reach has launched building boards for a digital age to increase the digital expertise of charity trustee boards. Working in collaboration with partners, we will be supporting boards to recruit ‘digital trustees’ and maximise their ability to lead their charities through this digital age.
Every charity is operating in a digital world now. When you make decisions about any element of your operations, digital is a key component, whether you chose to embrace it or not. How you should store and organise your data, how best to communicate with beneficiaries, donors and funders, how you promote your services, how you deliver them, and how you measure their effectiveness – these are all digital questions.
Many charities shy away from digital because they fear that they have insufficient expertise, and they worry that digital projects can be expensive, tricky and risky to implement. And they can be all those things.
But the benefits can also be huge – greater reach, scalable services, efficiency savings, to name but a few. And the risk of ignoring digital is even greater – a slow but fatal slide into irrelevance or obscurity.
It is crucial that charities have a strategic approach to digital. Not digital for digital’s sake, but for the contribution it can make to your charity’s strategic goals.
Your board needs to have the expertise and knowledge to:
• see the huge opportunities that digital offers your charity
• make informed decisions about the risks that it brings
• champion digital innovation
• ask probing questions of your plans.
I know from first-hand experience (having led Reach through its own digital transformation) that board buy-in to the project was essential. It made all the difference having trustees with digital expertise who really understood the process. They provided proper oversight, helped source experts, and most crucially of all, kept their nerve at sticky moments. But even if you don’t have any big projects planned, you still need to be considering what role digital should play in your strategy.
We are supporting charities to build their board’s digital expertise, by working together with public, private and voluntary sector partners to provide:
• useful resources and guidance
• links to training
• direct support to recruit trustees with digital expertise.
Digital is a topic that the whole board needs to engage with but it can really help to have at least one trustee with specialist knowledge. Someone that can champion the role of digital and ask more searching questions. We are therefore focusing our efforts on helping charities to recruit digital trustees.
Working with partners, we are building a pipeline of prospective digital trustees. We will promote charities’ digital trustee positions through these and other partners; through our TrusteeWorks recruitment service; and through LinkedIn and other channels.
If you are already thinking about recruiting, we’d encourage you to upload a role with us by 4 November so that you can take advantage of our big push this November. This will include promotion with key partners, a tailored search on your behalf by our TrusteeWorks team, and lots of social media promotion during Trustees’ Week (7 -13 November). And all of this is free!
You can also register to receive regular updates from our campaign and links to free resources – just complete the newsletter sign up details on this page.
The importance of etiquette and best practice in the recruitment of volunteers has been a long overlooked feature of volunteering, despite its importance, not only to the individual volunteers and charities but to the sector at large. As a specialist in trustee and volunteer recruitment, etiquette is an issue I see often and it is one which I believe has a bigger impact on the spirit of volunteerism than many might suspect.
I’m sure that most people would agree that volunteers are the lifeblood of the charity sector and that without them the majority of charities would flounder or run aground completely. Why is it then that every week my colleagues and I find ourselves consoling extremely capable and highly-experienced, prospective volunteers following a negative experience regarding a volunteer recruitment process?
The most common cause of disgruntlement among many aspiring volunteers stems from a simple lack of communication: a volunteer has applied for a role and simply never heard back. Often the case is slightly more personal however. For example, I have spoken to many volunteers who have been acknowledged by the recruiting organisation, who have discussed the role on the phone and, in many cases, have even been interviewed for the role. Imagine then, after this investment of time and energy, how a prospective volunteer might feel if they were simply forgotten about?
The knock-on effects of poor communication with applicants to a voluntary role are further-reaching than you might think. At best, the charity sector’s competence has been undermined and the organisation concerned suffers negatively as a result of word-of-mouth interactions within the volunteer community. At worst, the sector at large may have lost a valuable asset: someone who desires to contribute their free time and energy to a good cause has been irrevocably dissuaded from volunteering.
As an intermediary between volunteers and charities, we at Reach are often on the front line of such grievances and are left apologising on behalf of charities for having been left hanging by an organisation they were excited to contribute to. This is a sad state of affairs, particularly when you consider that many volunteers are reaching out to the sector in the hope of contributing their valuable spare time in aid of a cause they genuinely care about.
Many such people who have been treated with indifference or left in the cold during a volunteer recruitment process feel jaded, their good intentions and willingness to offer their time and expertise having been spurned. In many cases, not only has their confidence in the organisation concerned been shaken but their faith in the charity sector at large has been undermined and, in many cases, their appetite to volunteer is significantly diminished or gone altogether. It’s completely understandable. It is also completely avoidable.
Communication is nine-tenths of the law in any recruitment process and this is no less the case when it comes to volunteers. Whether you’re working toward appointing new trustees, skilled professionals to bolster your organisation’s infrastructure or you’re looking for the next Great British Bake-Off finalist to raise some valuable funds, the need for clear communication and an acknowledgment of the volunteers’ generous offer to help is not just essential, it’s good manners.
Bearing this in mind, it’s worth considering a few easy steps any organisation can take to ensure that their recruitment process is as considerate and empathetic as the volunteers who are offering their expertise and time:
It’s worth remembering that the sector relies of the good will, passion, expertise and experience of our volunteers and, as fellow charities, it’s essential that we consider the bigger picture when it comes to the gracious and grateful handling of those people who make our work possible. By fostering positive interactions with prospective volunteers, we enable their transition to other charities in the future and reinforce the positive spirit of volunteerism across the entire sector.
Volunteering is itself the perfect metaphor for this approach as it embodies that essence of good will that underpins the invaluable work that the sector contributes, reminding us that we are indeed all in it together.
For more guidance around working with volunteers, visit our new Knowledge Centre.
We are delighted to be key partners for LinkedIn’s Volunteer Marketplace. This UK roll out of their service, which enables charities to recruit volunteers from their vast professional network, was launched yesterday evening, and I was very honoured to be asked to speak.
‘Professional’ volunteering is coming of age…
For the past 35 years, we’ve have been connecting charities with people willing to volunteer their skills. In the last couple of years we’ve noticed an upsurge in interest from people wanting volunteering with ‘higher impact’- seeking to use their professional expertise to make a difference.
More charities too, are beginning to consider how they might better use this kind of pro-bono resource, and how to recruit trustees in a more open, purposeful way. Our TrusteeWorks service experienced a 60% jump in both demand and successful placements last year alone.
That said, we know that we are only scratching the surface. Thousands of charities have board vacancies, and how many more are struggling to deliver or innovate for want of sufficient resource?
The potential is huge
The untapped opportunities are huge, and this is what is so exciting about LinkedIn’s volunteer marketplace. With over 17 million members in the UK, LinkedIn can provide massive exposure for volunteering. People are always more likely to respond to an opportunity that fits them, than to a generic call for volunteers. For example, a graphic designer for an arts festival in aid of homeless people…. LinkedIn serves up volunteer positions like this to match member’s skills, enticing a whole range of people who might never have considered volunteering before. It’s what Alison Dorsey calls, ‘the puppy in the window’ effect.
Our experience of the Volunteer Marketplace
We have been piloting LinkedIn’s job posting and search tools to recruit volunteers since 2013, and have sourced over 500 applicants this way. Numbers aren’t the whole story though: by using the search tools our TrusteeWorks team have been able to find ideal candidates with very specific skills and expertise for board positions.
Of course, the Volunteer Marketplace is not panacea. It is really a tool – and how well it works for you depends on how effectively you use it. To recruit well, charities still need to think through what they really need, how to craft this into a good volunteer role, what skills and experience they are looking for, and how to create postings that will attract the people with these attributes. And most people did not join LinkedIn to volunteer, so they may need coaching through how charities differ, or the rights and responsibilities of volunteering. People who are job hunting with some urgency sometimes ignore the ‘volunteer’ tag, too.
Why our collaboration with LinkedIn is great!
LinkedIn themselves appreciate this broader picture, which is why they are so great to collaborate with. I confess that when I first learnt about their volunteer marketplace I was nervous; given LinkedIn’s size they could have blown us out of the water without even noticing. Happily, they absolutely get the value that brokers like Reach bring to the equation, and have made us, along with Do-it, key partners.
This means that charities can access the volunteer marketplace free of charge when they register through us. At the moment we can only post manually so we post just a selection (if you register a role with us and want us to include your opportunity in that selection, just ask.) When we launch our new platform this spring we will be able to cross-post all opportunities, giving great exposure to every volunteer role.
There is an abundance of great people out there, willing to donate their expertise. They just need connecting up with the right opportunity, in the right way; a combination of lots of promotion and well-honed volunteer recruitment processes. Through our partnership with LinkedIn we can offer both!
Every trustee knows that recruiting new board-members can be a daunting task. How do you find someone who really cares about your cause with the right skills and experience, a personality and background which complements the existing board members as well as the time available to make a genuine contribution?
Given that most boards aren’t static and the needs of both the organisation and the individual trustees are constantly changing, recruiting new board members is an on-going issue for most non-profits. That’s why getting your board to agree on a structured and thorough approach to recruitment is one of the most effective ways to ensure that the long-term governance of your organisation is not only secure but efficient, well-rounded and fit to take on whatever challenges may lie ahead.
1. Get the Board on-board:
The whole board needs to be engaged with the process of recruiting new members. The first step of any recruitment process is to ensure that you know what you really need. The best way to go about this is to conduct a skills-audit. Bear in mind the direction of the organisation and anticipated projects or challenges that may be faced in the future, to ascertain the kind of expertise the board will need to make well-rounded and informed decisions.
2. Draw up an interesting role description
Once you have identified the key skills and experience your board needs to excel, it’s time to draw up a role description. Try to avoid focusing on the standard duties of a trustee, instead highlight the most interesting aspects of the role. For instance, outlining the challenges faced by the organisation as well as its future prospects will breathe life into the role and give a sense of what issues the new trustee will be engaging with in real terms. In addition, it’s always a good idea to include a sense of what the impact of the role will be on the organisation and what benefits the new trustee can expect to receive by joining the board.
To ensure you get a diverse mix of applications, it’s really important to promote the role as widely as possible. Many organisation still limit their recruitment process to their personal network of connections and, whilst this may prove effective and save a little time, in the long run it’s much more beneficial for the organisation as a whole to look further afield: advertise externally using online job-boards, utilise social media, create a page on your website advertising the role and don’t rule out utilising a recruitment service. The quality and number of applicants is going to be largely dependent on how thorough and broad your publicity of the role is. Remember, there are a whole host of free resources out there specifically designed to help non-profits source trustees from a broader pool of candidates: TrusteeWorks, Small Charities Coalition Trustee Finder, Do-It, CharityJob, NCVO Trustee Bank.
4. Communication, communication, communication
It’s really important to ensure that, when you have received applications you make prompt contact with the applicants. Due to voluntary nature of the role, it’s wrong to assume that an applicant will remain interested indefinitely, particularly if there is a significant gap between receiving the application and interview. Taking the time to thank your applicants for their application and to set out a clear time-frame for the process reinforces the professional approach of your organisation and works wonders in retaining a candidate’s interest up until the point of interview.
5. Short-listing and Interview
Hooray! You’ve chosen a new board member! This is great news but you’re work isn’t done yet. To make sure that your new trustee takes the role seriously and, equally, is empowered to work to the best of their abilities you need to ensure that they have a clear, in-depth understanding of how the organisation functions. Make sure they have a copy of the memorandum and articles of association. If they are new to trusteeship, direct them to the appropriate resources so that they are completely clear about their responsibilities. Arrange an opportunity to meet the staff and, most importantly, the CEO, to get a feel for who runs the organisation and how they do it. If there are still minor question marks over the new board member, invite them to join board meetings as an observer. It’s better to make sure you have the right person in place through careful induction than to end up with a trustee that doesn’t fit the bill.
As in any job, it’s important to ensure that your new trustee is comfortable in their role and that they feel supported and empowered to contribute to the decision making of the board to the best of their ability. To this end, it’s really useful to touch base with the new trustee 3-6 months after their appointment. This is usually undertaken by the Chair in a private setting that allows any issues or concerns to arise outside the scrutiny of the board. This is also a really valuable moment to take stock of the trustee’s initial impressions; remember that they bring a fresh pair of eyes to the practices of the board, the culture of the organisation and its future prospects. For this reason, it may well be the case that they have noticed things which longstanding board members have not.
This blog by Luke was originally published on the Third Sector blog.
This is the first in our series of blogs for Trustees Week 2014.
Have you ever considered trusteeship? Many of us volunteer our time to causes that are close to our hearts but even some of the most dedicated, long term volunteers have failed to consider trusteeship as something they could actually do.
As a trustee recruiter and trustee myself, I often find that few people know about it and those who do, are unsure of how to become one. In addition to this, there are many misconceptions about who can become a trustee: most wrongly assume that you have to be middle-aged or retired with a huge portfolio of achievements and extensive non-executive experience. Whilst this is sometimes the case, being a trustee is a much broader undertaking than simply applying a narrow band of professional skills.
I want to share my experience of why being a trustee is a great opportunity for you to explore and develop yourself as a person and a professional and how you too can become a trustee.
Trusteeship in a nutshell
Simply put, trustees are Board members who govern a charity. As a trustee you’d be helping a charity run efficiently according to its mission, strategy and objectives set out in its governing document. You will not be managing but will be working towards developing an overarching strategy, keeping it risk free, compliant along with a duty of care and prudence to its beneficiaries.
Your role as a trustee could be that of a chair, treasurer or a general trustee or a trustee with specific functional expertise. Your effectiveness as a trustee will depend on:
Small and large organisations expect different levels of engagement from their trustees. However, regardless of the size of your organisation, make sure you get to know the members of staff and other trustees and be present and engaging.
For more details refer to the Charity Commission’s simple yet well written guidance document ‘The essential trustee: what you need to know (CC3)’.
Why become a Trustee
I’ve been extensively involved in introducing professionals as trustees within the charity sector and have encountered a wide variety of reasons for why people become trustees. Personally, I became a trustee to improve my career prospects by building experience of strategy and leadership, but it is the satisfaction I gain from contributing to a great cause which compels me to remain a trustee. I feel I’ve put my abilities and knowledge to good use in a new environment whilst learning new skills in the process. It has helped me become a responsible and accountable professional because I get a direct view as to how my suggestions and decisions directly impact the organisation and the community it serves. I believe it’s a win-win situation.
How to become a Trustee
There are three easy ways you can become a trustee:
Becoming a trustee is easily accessible as many boards are now responding to the need for diverse members. Depending on the organisation’s work, a potential trustee should show the following: soft-skills; vocational skills both relevant and transferable, and personal experience all of which add context and depth to strategic decision-making. In all instances, one of the most important aspects of being a trustee is to have sufficient time and commitment to make a genuine contribution to the role since it can be both engaging and challenging at the same time.
If you would like to get involved then find a charity you like, reach out to them and explore the many possibilities that may follow: trusteeship is an adventure you too can embark upon! I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences as practicing or aspiring trustees.
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.
Posted in Blog Entries Tagged with: Charity boards, Charity Governance, Charity Trustee, Good practice in governance, Good practice in volunteering, Skilled volunteering, Trustee Recruitment, Trustees' Week
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.
Posted in News Tagged with: Charity boards, Charity Governance, Charity Trustee, Corporate volunteering, Good practice in governance, Good practice in volunteering, Governance, Measuring impact, Reach in the news, Reach volunteering, Recession, Skilled volunteering, Trustee, Trustee Recruitment, Trustees' Week, TrusteeWorks, Volunteer expertise
Reach has appointed a new Chair, Senior Civil Servant Andrew Dent.
Joining him on the Reach Board as its new Treasurer will be experienced financial accountant Graham Warner.
Reach Chief Executive Janet Thorne said, “We are delighted that Andrew is to be our new Chair and Graham our new Treasurer. They bring key management, financial and professional skills and will strengthen our governance as we move to delivering an enhanced and more effective service to charities and professional volunteers. That we can attract leaders of such calibre is a positive indicator of the continuing value of Reach’s unique service to the health of the Third Sector. We are proud that both appointees came from our own register, despite a wide recruitment campaign.”
Andrew Dent said, “I am delighted to be taking on the role of Reach Chair and see it as an excellent opportunity to use the skills and experience I have built in Whitehall to help it develop and thrive for the future.”
Graham Warner said, “Reach is a highly regarded organisation and I look forward as Treasurer to contributing my financial and business experience to further improve its services to charities and volunteers.”
Andrew Dent has spent most of his career at the Home Office where he is currently Director of Passport Operations. Previously he was Head of UK Wide Operations for the London 2012 Olympics including overseeing the Torch Relay, and Deputy Director of the National Asylum Support Service. Between 1997 and 2000 he served as one of The Queen’s Private Secretaries. In 2000, he was appointed Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO). He has been Trustee of the Jubilee Walkway Trust since 2004.
Graham Warner, a qualified Chartered Accountant for 35 years, has worked as a finance director and in senior financial reporting roles for a number of leading financial services firms. He has also previously been Treasurer of his local Mencap Society
Andrew and Graham will join the Reach Board with effect from its Annual General Meeting on June 4.
At the AGM Bob Fee will leave the Reach Board after many years of service including the last two as Chairman.
Janet Thorne said, “Bob has served Reach well and his leadership helped us to steer successfully through the sometimes choppy waters that all charities have faced in the last few years of economic strain.”
The board of Reach Trustees from June 4 will be: