One of the most difficult areas for a charity to manage is to have an efficient and effective board of trustees with the right skill sets to manage its own affairs.
So many times, we are asked how to recruit trustees and to make sure they have the right values for that charity. It is vitally important that your trustees can work together as a team which means that the skill sets, and characters need to be complementary. Without that balance it can be an absolute nightmare both from the trustee’s point of view and that of the senior leadership team.
Please consider the skills that your charity needs. For example, every charity needs to manage its finances but does that mean that every board needs an accountant as a trustee? One of the major assets of your charity might well be a property either from the point of view of its operational headquarters or perhaps as an investment property. Does that mean that you need a surveyor on the board? What about the number of employees that your charity has? Are we now saying that you must have an HR professional on the board?
The answer to all of these questions is perhaps! Not all charities can have a board of trustees with all the required skill sets the charity may need. You must consider whether the missing skills can be managed in another way. So, for example, your property needs can be managed by working with an experienced external advisor on an ad hoc or a retainer basis . This is no different from using the services of an experienced investment manager to look after the charity’s investments.
However, increasingly there is a demand on charities in some new areas which historically were not considered necessary. Information technology and social media are areas which until relatively recently were not considered as important areas for a charity. However increasingly in this digital age, these skills have become vital to a charity in areas such as online digital fund raising, trading, and keeping in contact with your members and supporters by social media.
In fact, most recently social media has for many membership charities become a minefield as every member and supporter can have their own opinion and has no fear of expressing it. As a result, many charities have found social media accounts set up using the subject matter of the charity over which the charity has no control. Consequently, the board of trustees has to be continually alert and knowledgeable about this subject.
Every charity is different in the sense that the objectives are nuanced to the particular area whether it be, for example, research, campaigning, disseminating information, direct assistance to the beneficiaries etc. etc . Consequently, the board needs to regularly either self-assess or have external assessment to ensure that the necessary skills that your particular charity needs are available either internally on the board or externally. Some of these skills can be employable but remember it is the board who set the standards that the employees need to adhere to as well as the policies and procedures.
We at In the Round Advisors have experience on both sides of the fence as trustees and consultants . We believe that we can assist you in managing your requirements and advise on how best to fulfil them. For a free initial conversation, please telephone us on 0116 478 2871 and we will be delighted to assist .