Checklist: using trustees' experience

Governance expert Judith Rich advises

Although they are honoured to be asked to serve on a board, some trustees may not appreciate that their experience can be a highly valuable asset.

General management or specific technical knowledge can be invaluable. It is important to make sure your chair knows you can offer such input but without ever implying your view should be the sole one.

Perhaps you have had experience of mergers; your expertise in this could save a charity much time and expense.

Often, a trustee with such experience could suggest creative and innovative ways to approach the problem concerned and, especially where new trustees are concerned, it is important that the chair makes them realise that it is the problem that has to be addressed, not the organisation to which it applies.

Charitable organisations are similar in many ways to commercial bodies; it is merely the language that is different. So do not be afraid to offer such knowledge and thereby become an even more valuable appointee to the board.

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