Checklist: how to deal with absentee trustees

By governance expert Judith Rich

Greater professional pressures may be imposed on trustees by the recession. Some people might be unable to give as much time and attention to voluntary work such as trusteeship. This may lead to irregular board attendance. Trustees may get out of touch with the possibly urgent needs of the charity, which are bound to be affected by similar recessionary pressures.

The result can be an additional burden on the chair, who will almost always be the one to take up any slack. The chair will probably want to speak to any trustees who are frequently absent, both to bring them up to date and to find out how long it will be before they can come back and play a full part again.

The responsibility that people take on when they become a trustee cannot merely be shrugged off. Apart from the legal commitment that has been made, trustees must do all they can to help their organisations survive the recession. The skills that brought them on to the board in the first place are needed even more at times like these.

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