Adeela Warley: Cast the net widely to reap the rewards

Finding trustees with the right skills, experience and time to make a difference is not easy, writes our columnist

Adeela Warley
Adeela Warley

The general election may be behind us, but elections are still on my mind as CharityComms starts its search for new trustees. Effective governance sits at the heart of great charities, but finding trustees with the right skills, experience and time to make a difference is not easy.

Seventy-four per cent of charities struggle with trustee recruitment, according to a recent report by the leadership charity Getting On Board, which has reputational consequences. As Bernard Jenkin MP, chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said: "Charities really only have one asset: your reputation. It is trustees' responsibility to look after it."

I was heartened, then, to celebrate inspirational trustees and brilliant boards at the Charity Governance Awards 2017, run by the Clothworkers' Company. Winner of the Managing Turnaround category was Off the Record, a mental health charity in Bristol working with children and young people. Faced with multiple challenges, the board oversaw an increase in income of 1,500 per cent and a tenfold increase in the number of young people accessing the service. Central to this was the formation of a shadow board of children and young people to put their voices and views at the heart of the charity. Judges were impressed by how the board considered its own performance, refocused efforts and took corrective action.

As CharityComms searches for trustees, such examples remind us of the impact of good governance. By casting our net widely, we can reap the rewards of inclusivity and diversity, which brings constructive challenge, fresh ideas and the voice of our members into the boardroom.

Adeela Warley is chief executive of CharityComms

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