Checklist: Giving the chair extra support

By governance expert Judith Rich

Judith Rich
Judith Rich

To be a chair of trustees is challenging at any time, but in the current economic climate there is extra need for support. Many chairs are facing up to less financial support, greater need from beneficiaries and new legislation that might affect their work in a range of ways. This calls for calm wisdom and - dare I say it - the ability to ask for help at times.

Such support might come from professional advisers or the much-trumpeted volunteer force that is supposed to be available to step into the breach and supplement charity staff - although there might not be as many volunteers available as the government would like us to believe.

Trustees themselves, however, need to recognise that their chair might need more support than usual, and they should be willing to offer it. Some trustees fail to appreciate the extra pressures on their chair, and some chairs feel unable to ask their fellow board members to give more time than they already do.

Everybody in the country faces changing circumstances, and these can reduce people's availability to help. But it is vital that trustee boards recognise that they must give more than normal to their role, and listen to the chair when support and understanding is required.

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