Checklist: Developing the trustee board

By governance expert Ruth Lesirge

Ruth Lesirge
Ruth Lesirge

All organisations - even the smallest - prepare an annual budget or financial plan. Expenditure items usually include the costs of salaries, services, fundraising and essential infrastructure.

Some also separate out governance costs, such as travel or awaydays. Few, however, describe the latter as a trustee and board development programme. This indicates a fragmented approach to trustee support and reveals a lack of ambition on the part of the board.

The best boards assess their achievements each year and identify where they have fallen short of what they had hoped to contribute. This creates a basis for exploring how they might do better. It shapes the planning of individual and collective learning - focused on organisational strategy - and enables the making of a coherent 12-month governance development programme.

Boards that undertake this process of looking back to plan forward can assign an appropriate sum to invest in trustee development. The annual reflections also enable trustees and boards to be held to account on the basis of what was learned and, crucially, how well it has been applied for the benefit of people who use the services.

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