Checklist: Retirement and succession

By governance expert Rodney Buse

Governance expert Rodney Buse
Governance expert Rodney Buse

A term of six years is becoming the norm for the trustees of larger charities.

Having a fixed term is a good place to start if difficulties regarding retirement or succession are to be avoided later. If no such policy exists, some trustees stay for 10 or more years.

In this case, asking a trustee to retire can seem like a personal decision. If charities are to accommodate these policies effectively, serious thought must be given to succession planning for all trustees, and allowing trustees to stay beyond their terms should be done with caution.

Particular attention may be given to the future retirement of key officers, including the chair. The value of a nomination committee is becoming more widely understood, and such committees benefit from one or two independent members.

It is never too soon to think about succession as an agenda item. Two years before the event may not be too early. The alternative is to leave it too late, when decisions can be taken under time pressures that lead to the stalling of major developments - or worse.

Governance Advice

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