Focus: Finance and Governance - Trustee talk - Chris Hopson, chairman, the Foyer Federation

One of the biggest challenges I've faced during my time as chairman is recruiting a new chief executive. For me as chairman, the quality of the relationship with the chief executive is fundamental.

That means ensuring there is a shared sense of strategy, vision and direction.

But it also means making sure there is a performance management aspect and a formal process by which the chief executive's performance can be appraised. I'm extremely lucky in that I have a brilliant chief executive - but even if you have a good chief executive, it's still just as important to have a proper performance appraisal process in place.

One of the other major challenges is ensuring we have an effective board.

I regard it as my responsibility to ensure that we have the right mix of skills and the board functions effectively. At the Foyer Federation, we have deliberately sought a mixture of skills from inside the foyer movement and from people who are not in the movement but who have specific skills in finance, general management and central government, for example.

We have done this by identifying the skills gaps we had and going out and filling them.

Something else I think is incredibly important for a board of trustees is managing risk. Ensuring the board has a very clear picture of what risks the organisation is running and ensuring those risks are properly managed is crucial for any organisation.

If you look at the voluntary sector, it quite often appears that organisations run some fairly big risks. One obviously concerns funding, and we all know it's never the easiest environment in which to raise funds. I think, particularly for an organisation of our size, it's important to try to ensure we carefully match the amount of money we can raise with the level of activity we are trying to undertake.

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