Speaker at City Hall
November 20th, 2015 by Victoria Bunney

On Monday 16th Nov I pedalled my way to City Hall, Tower Bridge to attend the Inspiring Trusteeship Conference. The event was organised by Greater London Volunteering in partnership with us at Reach and Team London, who provided the glorious City Hall as the venue. Everything was offered pro-bono  – a zero budget / no charge conference.

I know what you’re thinking, ‘inspiring’ doesn’t necessarily spring to mind as an obvious prefix to Trusteeship, but as the day unfolded, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed and learnt from the day.

The day started formally, in City Hall’s great Chamber. After the delegates made their way up the gently sloping, spiral ramp, Cameron the chair of GLV introduced himself and guest speakers Dr Alice Maynard CBE and Leon Ward. Alice gave an insightful analysis of trusteeship, focusing on the importance of challenging perspectives on the board and inciting debate amongst members to spark development. I listened avidly as she spoke about her own experience as a trustee and CEO.

Next came Leon, bringing the ‘young persons’ view, which made for a good comparison. At 23, he’d already held many trustee positions and he spoke candidly about his own personal development through trusteeship. He was able to demonstrate how important it was to have a fresh perspective on a trustee board; be it through a younger generation of trustees or implementing maximum terms.

This discussion was followed seamlessly, with a more focused conversation on the specific CEO and Chair relationship within the charity context and beyond. This panel included Ros Oakley (Association of Chairs), Gerald Oppenheim (Chair of The Camden Society), David Gold (Prospectus) and Charles Smith (Chair of the Governing Body at Burdett-Coutts & Townshend Foundation CE Primary School). Afterwards, the floor was opened to questions and I had the important task of handling the roving mic. The Q&A afterwards was lively, particularly when a passing comment on power vs leadership roused many in the audience.

After my 15 minutes of fame, I lingered at the back of the Chamber to watch Janet, Reach’s CEO, present a descriptive Pecha Kucha (in case you don’t know what Pecha Kucha is, check out this link). Her five minutes sharp, were just enough for her to explain a little about our new online service and the tools that it offers for charities looking to find great trustees. As the first of four presentations, she masterfully handled the pressure and left the room awash with questions which was continued during the networking time in the market place, where the Reach stand was inundated with people enquiring into our service.

The other four pecha kucha presentations also provided valuable information in a short space of time, with NCVO on their PQASSO quality mark, as well as the Association of Chairs, Russell Cooke LLP and the Cranfield Trust.

Following lunch, the entire group made its way back up the spiralling ramp, an interesting commute but definitely not the most efficient, to the Chamber where we heard Reena Pastakia talk about her experience of becoming a trustee. I enjoyed listening to her speak. Perhaps it was hearing about the exciting organisation that she’d become a trustee for, Sound Seekers. Or maybe it was just a nice story to listen to, but I thought it split the conference up nicely, allowing for a good balance between discussion and presentation. She spoke inspiringly about how the position had made a huge difference in her life as well as what she had contributed. (You can see Reena speaking the picture above).

For the last hour or so, delegates chose one of four workshops to attend. These were: Legal updates for Trustees, Tips for recruiting great Trustees, Introduction to Trusteeship and Funding landscape in London. I sat in on Introduction to Trusteeship, presented by Janet, who spoke in depth about the significance of any trustee role and the challenges that it may present. After taking a stab at defining the ‘ideal’ trustee board, she settled on the term ‘Critical Friend‘. This is used to refer to the board that is able to challenge and scrutinise its CEO effectively.

The workshop slid nicely onto an interactive chat on Risk vs. Innovation. One of the key points brought up here, was the importance of a board that proactively manages risk rather than avoiding it. The audience seemed more than eager to contribute and some thought provoking points were raised.

To round the workshop off, the group were asked to form smaller teams and then to complete a small task which involved coming up with a strategy needed to solve a specific problem. Despite it coming up to 4 o’clock in a day full of information and chatting with various people, the group remained engaged; a positive evaluation of the event, I thought.

Whilst the last delegates mingled, the Reach team re-grouped and discussed the conference. It seemed we’d all had a good time, achieved a lot and learnt something. For me, it was important to see the great work that people contribute to organisations everywhere, harnessing a lifetime of experience to benefit others. I suppose this is how I find trusteeship inspiring – that people are willing to offer their own skills in a position of huge responsibility, that reverberates globally in some cases but which largely goes unnoticed and mostly un-applauded, except for at events such as these.

Thanks again to GLV and Team London for hosting the event. You can find some of the presentations from the event on the GLV website.

Victoria is Reach’s Service co-ordinator

Posted in Blog Entries, News Tagged with: , , ,

Bilwa in the TrusteeWorks team
November 6th, 2015 by Bilwa Iyer

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.

Last year I had started out sharing my experience on why being a trustee was a great opportunity. It’s been more than a year as a trustee and while I do still feel the same, I also seem to have discovered new motivations along the way which seem to go beyond mere career aspirations. So here’s an account of why becoming a trustee is a great opportunity personally and professionally.


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:

  1. Your ability to work together with other trustees, appreciate the strengths each one brings to a discussion.
  2. Your time commitment and involvement in the organisation’s work and cause.
  3. You adding value in areas within and sometimes outside your area of expertise no matter how big or small.
  4. You engaging in trustee meetings to challenge, support the decision making process and sticking by the outcomes.
  5. You learning to balance your involvement in operational and governance matters.

Small and large organisations expect different levels of engagement from their trustees. However, regardless of the size of your organisation, make sure to research your charity, connect with staff and trustees and stay engaged and focussed. 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 I became 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. I became a trustee to improve my career prospects and to get strategic and leadership experience. Having spent more than a year as a trustee, there have been both satisfying and challenging moments. The challenging ones are the typical ones to name a few i.e. trying to balance my time between my day job and trustee meetings; trying to balance my involvement in operational matters and governance matters. These are never easy to get right but have definitely improved my ability to manage time better and prioritise. The rewarding moments are those where the Board begins to view you as a valued member for your decision making and problem solving skills that helped them take a step in the right direction.

Personally I have developed the courage to challenge and support decisions, learnt to appreciate the strengths of other Board members I work with and communicate objectively and constructively. I have realised that to become a trustee it is not enough to be passionate about it but to be able to stick by and be accountable to all things going well and not so well.


How you can become a Trustee

The nature of boards is changing and there is a need for diverse trusteeship. There is also an uptake of trusteeship from professionals these days so make the most of this opportunity and come forward. You as a potential trustee can now 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. If you are someone who can stay committed and devote sufficient time, make a genuine contribution as a member on Board and be accountable then this one is for you.

You can become a trustee in three easy ways:

  1. Register yourself with Reach and approach charities directly.
  2. Network at trustee events organised by organisations such as GLV, I AM, NCVO, Small Charities Coalition etc and join focused trustee groups and hubs on LinkedIn, Guardian etc.
  3. Apply directly to trustee vacancies advertised on charity websites, jobs boards and LinkedIn and don’t be afraid to directly approach a charity you are interested in.

Research the charity you like, reach out to them and explore the many possibilities of engaging with them. Go on! Become a trustee if you aren’t already one, it’s a journey waiting to be explored.

For those who are already trustees come forward and share your experiences thoughts and contributions. Let’s celebrate trusteeship!

(This blog also appeared on the Trustees’ Week website.)

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.

Posted in Blog Entries Tagged with:

Charly Young, prospective trustee
November 5th, 2015 by Sarah Tucker

Trustees’ Week is a chance to celebrate and recognise the valuable work that trustees’ do. We want to highlight some of the people who want to help change our society through volunteering their skills in a trustee position.

With the introduction of our new online service you can – for the first time – search and view the skills of the people who want to contribute their time and expertise! This is huge benefit for charities as they can see the real people behind their CV’s and contact them directly.

Charly Young is a one of these potential volunteers signed up on our service and looking to be a trustee. We spoke to Charly about why she wants a position on a board:


Why did you sign up?

As the Director of a quickly-growing charity, I feel I am in the enviable position of both having a lot to offer and having a lot to learn! In 3 years we have grown The Girls’ Network from a small charity working with just 30 girls, to now provide more than 600 girls from low-income communities across the South East with a personal mentor for the year.

I am very excited both by the opportunity to share what we have learnt with others, but also to broaden my experience working with and learning from a charity in another sector or placing different challenges.

What sort of skills do you have to offer a charity?

From finance and fundraising bids to running workshops, volunteer management to writing policies, starting a new charity means you end up learning a lot about a lot very quickly!

As a former teacher, I know the way the education sector operates well, and now head up the Strategy and Expansion of The Girls’ Network. This ranges from creating target operating models and KPIs, to creating partnerships and fundraising.

We also manage more than 600 volunteers and run training for women and girls throughout the year, so I am skilled in development engagement strategies and addressing risk and quality assurance.

What sort of voluntary position are you looking for?

I am looking for a Trustee position in a charity where I can use my broad range of skills in directing a charity in a different capacity. I could be most hands-on if this were based in London (and I know from experience that good ‘hands-on’ Trustees are invaluable!).

My background is in education, so any charity in this space would fit comfortably into the networks I am part of, however I would be equally excited to share my knowledge and experience of growing a charity and planning strategy with an organisation in an entirely different sector, too.


Thanks to Charly for speaking to us about her background and what she is looking for. You can see her profile and get in contact with Charly directly via the website.

If you are a charity looking for a trustee you can register on the Reach website, search and directly contact people like Charly who want to gain a board-level position. Sign up here.

Sarah has been Reach’s Marketing and Communications Manager since September 2014

Posted in Articles Tagged with: , ,

People in a meeting
November 4th, 2015 by Luke Strachan

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:

  1. Acknowledge every application: all this takes is a standard email template which can be sent out to all applicants. This should thank the volunteer for their interest in the opportunity and inform them of the time-frame to which the recruitment process is working. It should also give them an indication of when they are likely to hear back from the organisation. Often, volunteers won’t mind waiting awhile as long as they know when they can expect to hear back.
  2. Update all applicants regarding short-listing: once you have chosen a number of applicants who you would like to take forward you will undoubtedly let them know, however, don’t forget those that were not successful. Again, a brief and grateful email acknowledging their offer of support is a gracious way of wrapping up loose ends as well as retaining the interest of those you would like to interview.
  3. Post Interview/meeting correspondence: Once a volunteer has visited your premises or spent some time on the phone with the recruiting parties, make sure you follow up with a “Thank You” and let them know your decision in a timely fashion. This also helps keep the door open should you require the future support of a candidate who was not successful but ultimately a good connection and potentially an asset to the organisation in a different capacity.

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.

Luke heads up Reach’s TrusteeWorks team

Posted in Blog Entries Tagged with: , ,

Young people from TalentEd programme
November 3rd, 2015 by Sarah Tucker

When Fiona Spellman approached us looking for a volunteer role, she brought a wealth of valuable skills such as teaching, project managing, impact measurement, planning and monitoring programme delivery. She is currently Senior Programme Manager with the SHINE Trust and previously taught in a secondary school through the Teach First programme. We connected her with TalentEd, a charity which brings together retired teachers with bright students from low income backgrounds. Fiona joined as a trustee in 2014.

TalentEd offers high-ability Year 10 students a year-long programme of weekly small group (1:6) sessions. Qualified, retired teachers and inspirational role models help to improve GCSE grades and academic and career options for the young people. Every young person should have the support, skills and aspirations to realise their potential. Sadly, this is not the case for young people from low income areas in the UK and educational inequality is highest amongst the brightest students.

When Fiona was appointed, TalentEd was working in 3 schools but with big potential to expand. In order to demonstrate success they needed a trustee who had a depth of experience in measuring impact in the education of bright but disadvantaged children.

Fiona Spellman said “Initially I wanted to volunteer to teach children but after registering with Reach, I quickly learnt of the trustee vacancy with TalentEd and thought the strategic role would be particularly suitable and where my skills could be put to good use.“

Fiona has helped the organisation to grow from working with 3 schools to 9, increase the central staff team and numbers of volunteers, and show that the charity can double the number of bright students from low income areas achieving A and A* grades. The impact data Fiona produced helped to articulate TalentEd’s offer to funders and schools. The charity has now started working outside of London in Kent and East Sussex where educational inequality is most acute.

TalentEd’s Director, Anood Al-Samerai, says “Fiona is a brilliantly intelligent and experienced trustee bringing a great balance of support and challenge to the board and the staff team. She has made a transformative difference to the organisation, way beyond her formal board responsibility for evaluation and impact measurement. As a trustee, Fiona does not directly work on the front line, but her energy and commitment to our governance and strategy means that we can achieve our vision of giving every young person the support, skills and aspirations to realise their potential.“

It’s great to hear stories like this and the difference a volunteer or trustee has made to an organisation. If you need to find a trustee, search our new website. The new features mean you can search the register of skilled volunteers and for the skills you need. You can also contact volunteers directly to ask them to apply for your opportunity. Search for a trustee now.

Sarah has been Reach’s Marketing and Communications Manager since September 2014

Posted in Success Stories Tagged with: ,

Trustees' Week logo
November 2nd, 2015 by Sybil

Trustees’ week is here again. An annual event, falling this year between 2-8 November, it showcases the great work trustees do. The week also coincides with Guy Fawkes Day, another annual event celebrating a foiled attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Happily, trustees, members of boards and management committees are united by their wish to create a more positive change in society.

What is a trustee?

A trustee essentially leads a charity.  You can see more on the Trustees’ Week website. They say: “Trustees are the people in charge of a charity. They may be called trustees, directors, board members, governors or committee members, but they are the people with ultimate responsibility for directing the business of the charity.  They are often the unsung heroes, playing a vital role, volunteering their time, working together to make the decisions that really matter about the charity’s finances, activities and plans for the future.”

Anyone over 18 can be a trustee. Gone are the days when trustees were older more conservative members of society. The young and dynamic can get involved and we would encourage anyone who wants to increase their experience, responsibility and with a passion for social change to explore a possible trustee role. The Charity Commission give more guidance about what’s involved.

So how did Trustees’ Week come about?

In October 2010, in conjunction with Reach and a number of national organisations, the Charity Commission launched Trustees’ Week to highlight the invaluable work done by trustees nationwide. We hope that even more people will be encouraged to consider becoming trustees by being made aware of the opportunities which exist to make a real difference in society. Trustees’ Week 2015 is our sixth annual celebration. We draw attention to the opportunities for people from all walks of life to get involved – no formal qualifications are usually needed, and many charities especially smaller ones need more trustees.

To read inspiring stories about what trustees from all walks of life have achieved and for events, news and support go to the Trustees’ Week website.

We are thrilled to be involved with Trustees’ Week and help to raise awareness of the valuable trustee role. The importance of a charity’s board cannot be overstated and it’s well worth investing in a recruitment process that adds genuine value to the board, introducing you to the right people to lead your charity to success.

We recognised the need for a dedicated trustee finder service so in 2009 we launched TrusteeWorks. Having now placed well over 1,000 trustees, we are happy to report TrusteeWorks has become the largest supplier of trustees to the sector (we also have a free Matching service to charities under £1M turnover, which we launched in 2013).

 

Resources for Trustees and Boards

At Reach have plenty of advice at hand on how to be or find a good trustee. Here are some resources you might find useful from Luke and Bilwa in our TrusteeWorks team:

For prospective trustees

  1. Luke’s top ten skills useful for being a trustee
  2. Bilwa has some good advice on how to write a good trustee letter
  3. We have new guides and resources in our Knowledge Centre about becoming and being a trustee.

For charities recruiting trustees

  1. Seven tips for recruiting good trustees.
  2. Visit our our new Knowledge Centre for advice and support about recruiting and retaining a trustee.

For everyone

There is a free governance conference on Monday 16th November at City Hall. Organised by Greater London Volunteering, Team London and Reach the conference includes: a session about trustee diversity in the morning, a panel about chief executive/chair relationships, a speed pitching session, and workshops in the afternoon. Book your place here.

You can also find more resources about trusteeship on the Trustees’ Week website.


And what sort of impact do trustees have?

We often speak to the charities we work with to find out the impact the trustees placed through us have made.  Here’s what a selection of them have said:

“Angela has brought a lot more to the charity. She has experience of writing company strategies. She is focused on turning information into actions.”
Board Chairman, Jim Grassick, Independent Options

“With a working history at TFL, Giles is our marketing expert on the board. He has done a tremendous amount of promotion for us and has had a phenomenal impact. We depend on getting the word out for our income and Giles has used a mixture of social media, events and website to create maximum coverage.”
Chair of trustees, Caroline Clark, The Brix at St Matthews

“We were very happy with Matthew’s placement. We had needed someone with HR knowledge for some time. Matthew has brought the HR skills we needed and also other experience such as organisational change management. His impact has been felt in his willingness to take an active part in the Board’s work.”
Board Member, Hazel McGrath, Alternatives to Violence

“We are very grateful to Reach for playing an important role in enabling us to rejuvenate our Board. Like many – perhaps most – voluntary organisations, the year ahead is going to be very difficult for us, but with Reach’s help, we are in a better position to face it.”
Peter Senker, Crossroads Care East Sussex, Brighton & Hove

“Thank you, as ever, for an excellent professional service, without which the Counselling and Family Centre would very much be struggling to recruit volunteers of anything like the calibre of the candidate you sent to us.”
Geoff Urwin, The Counselling & Family Centre

As you can see, the work and value of trustees is massive and they make a huge contribution to UK charities and our society at large. Trustees’ Week is a chance to celebrate, highlight and recognise their work – I do hope you’ll join us in doing so!

Sybil is part of the communications team at Reach.

Posted in Blog Entries Tagged with:

TrusteesWeek
November 13th, 2014 by Luke Strachan

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.

3. Promotion

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

  • a) Your short-listing and interview process should be structured (even if this is only in an informal way). The board as a whole should be involved in reviewing the applications. It’s a really good idea to give potential candidates a phone call to informally discuss their viability for the role before you blindly dismiss or shortlist them: remember that CVs and covering letters cannot be trusted as definitive endorsements of either a person’s skills or personality and it’s well worth taking the time to talk with your candidates before you take their application further.
  • b) Your interview process should be equally considered. Take the time to draw up questions which uniquely relate to the organisations requirements and those of the role itself, don’t be afraid to ask about motivation and invite searching questions from the interviewee as well. This open approach will elicit real answers to real questions and allow the candidates personality to shine through too. This is essential for gauging whether someone is the right fit for the role, a process which is best reached through mutuality.

6. Induction

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.

7. Review

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.

Luke heads up Reach’s TrusteeWorks team

Posted in Blog Entries Tagged with: , ,

TrusteesWeek
November 10th, 2014 by Bilwa Iyer

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:

  1. Your ability to work together with other trustees
  2. Your time commitment and involvement in the organisation’s work
  3. Making a positive contribution in areas within and sometimes outside your area of expertise
  4. Getting trustee meetings to make big decisions
  5. Engaging in constructive criticism and decision making

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:

  1. Register yourself with brokering agencies such as Reach
  2. Network at trustee focused events organised by organisations such as I AM, NCVO, Small Charities Coalition etc and join trustee groups and hubs on LinkedIn, Guardian etc.
  3. Apply directly to trustee vacancies advertised on charity websites, jobs boards and LinkedIn and don’t be afraid to directly approach a charity you are interested in

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.

This blog also appeared on the I AM website, in celebration of Trustees’ Week 2014, on 10th-16th November.

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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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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