Checklist: The new chair's to-do list

Governance expert Ruth Lesirge advises on what the priorities of a newly-appointed charity chair should be

Ruth Lesirge says it is important to form a view about how decisions have been made in the past
Ruth Lesirge says it is important to form a view about how decisions have been made in the past

The successful appointment of your next chair might be a relief, but it is not an end in itself - rather, it's the beginning of an important familiarisation process. Here are some must-do things for an incoming chair.

First, re-read the charity's governing documents, so you can understand what you are told by trustees, volunteers and staff about the objects and powers.

Skim the last few years of board papers in order to form a view about how decisions have been made. It will trigger thoughts about keeping or changing past practice.

In your first three months in the role, get some dates into the diary to meet each of the trustees. If possible, find out a bit about them in advance and mine their knowledge in a semi-structured but informal conversation.

Plan a series of sessions with the chief executive. There will be too much to absorb properly in one meeting. Prepare key questions and listen well. Then make sure you schedule regular meetings together.

Investing time and money in developing yourself and your board to ensure effective governance leadership will benefit the organisation's mission and beneficiaries.

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