Case study:the merger of twocouncils for voluntary service

Andy Ricketts on how two Yorkshire-based groups merged - and modernised the structure of the new organisation

The challenge

Coast and Moors Voluntary Action was formed through the merger of Whitby & District Voluntary Action and Scarborough District Council for Voluntary Service. The new organisation needed to reduce the number of people on its board and modernise its governance structure.

The process

The new organisation needed to get rid of more than half the trustees previously on the boards of the two organisations. Scarborough District CVS's constitution said it should have between 14 and 22 trustees. Stephanie Sturrock, chief executive of the merged body, says this was ridiculously large for such a small organisation.

"The organisations often struggled to get enough trustees to have their meetings," she says. In the end, six board members from the two merged organisations agreed to form the new board, with the remainder standing down.

A new senior management team was formed, which will result in a change of roles for the trustees, Sturrock says.

The outcome

CMVA is carrying out a skills audit to identify the core skills it needs to augment the board. It aims to increase the number of trustees to 10 and will advertise for individuals with the specific expertise it is currently lacking.

Sturrock adds: "We now have people doing some of the detailed work that trustees were doing. This means the board can focus on managing strategy, performance and risk."

The knock-on effect of this is that CMVA will have to be more proactive in ensuring its board gets a front-line perspective, according to Sturrock. Every second board meeting will become a 'staff workshop' to help trustees stay in touch with front-line issues.

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