Trustee recruitment and succession planning


I always like to start by reminding you
why we are here as the charity regulator. What is it we are here to do? What were
we set up to do? Just put it in that context. Many of you will have been around
when the regulator was set up over 12 years ago on the back of a
number of charity difficulties. The idea being that as a regulator we could
contribute to public trust and confidence in charities. We know
we are only a part of that jigsaw, it is charities themselves that inspire the
high levels of trust and confidence they have in the
public but a regulator can help underpin that and that’s something that we’ve
seen time and time again, and in the surveys we do every couple of years with the
public and with charities, the public will tell us that it’s a very good thing
for a charity sector to be regulated. It does help in terms of their confidence.
Now, they don’t always know who OSCR is, so that’s a real challenge for us that
we’re trying to sort of do more about but that issue of
regulation being something that really does underpin public trust and
confidence is very much something that we see time and time
again. So, who is it that we really work with? We work with charities, and we
have to remember the sector that we work with, the nature of that sector, the
makeup of that sector, which is very very weighted towards the small charities.
50% of all charities have an income of less than £25,000 – that’s very
small. It’s not really enough to have a full-time member of staff if they’re
going to have somewhere to sit and have a computer etc. So very
small charities are volunteer-led volunteer run and that does mean that we
approach our work very much from a preventive focus. We want to be as
preventative as possible, we want to be as proportionate as possible and we want to
give charities really a sporting chance to get it right before we start with our
enforcement scary arm where we try to deal with problems once they’ve happened.
We would rather problems did not happen at all
and that is what we are here to do. So in doing that, who’s our audience? Who are we
working with? We are working with charity trustees. They are our regulated
community. We don’t have a specific number of how many charity trustees there
are in Scotland and that’s partly a challenge that we have in the way that
our legislation was set up in the way that we can keep track of charity
trustees and some of you will have seen that there’s a consultation on at
the moment in terms of charity law and part of that is having a bit more of a
concrete handle on that on a day to day basis in terms of number of charity
trustees. But it’s well over 150,000 charity trustees working in Scotland
on a voluntary basis contributing to the fantastic, impactful sector that we do
have here. And they are a regulated community, they are the people who are in
management and control of charities, they are the people who have charity
trustee duties under charity law. So acting in the best interests of your
charity, acting with care and diligence – that is what charity trustees are there
to do. They are a regulated community and they are who we are working with. When we talk about charity trustees, we like to be quite celebratory
about it, we like to see that what we see is a massive number of very dedicated
people who are contributing to to this vibrant charity sector across Scotland,
trying to have impact whether it be in Scotland, whether it be in the wider UK,
whether it be further afield internationally. These charity
trustees are the ones who are charged with making that happen. It’s quite a
responsible position and it’s something that’s done with a lot of
heart and it’s done voluntarily in the vast, vast, vast majority of cases. We’ve talked about them as sort of silent, if quite quiet, super-heroes. So
they get on with our work and they do it quite quietly but without them we would
be a much poorer Society across Scotland. But actually when we put the title of
the talk out there was some kickback. Some said no it’s not about heroes, they’re not
heroes but professional people who are there to do the right
thing and we have to have skills. I think that is also true. I think there’s a lot of skills that charity
trustees need to have or need to develop in their trusteeship. That’s a very
important part of it. So, part hero, part professional person and big part
volunteer. Put that package together and what you have is a pretty
special person who is doing something pretty phenomenal in terms of trying to
really make Scotland and the wider world a better place. But when we go
out and about, which we do quite a lot – we do our meet the charity regulator
events, we take part in other activities, we take part in other events – one
of the first things that people will say if we ask what are the
challenges you are facing at the moment people will say the challenge we are
facing is trying to get enough trustees. The challenge we are facing is trying to
get trustees who are maybe a bit different, have different skills. The
challenge we are facing is trying to get the average age of our trustees down a
little bit because it’s quite high generally. These are challenges that
most, not all, but many charities are facing. We did a little survey, it was only
250 people so please do not put much scope on this but we did actually just
talk to quite a few people and what they said was 72%, it’s the number in
the wee green one, 72% find new trustees by word-of-mouth. Not surprising, that’s way it has tended
to work in the past, it’s quite an effective way of finding new
people for your board – your brother and all your sister-in-law, your
your friend down the road who has got certain skills. Not a bad way of attracting new
people in. But that is a high percentage just by word of mouth. And the other
one I would just say, 33% say they recruit trustees every year. Now
that’s quite a high number, it’s quite high. It’s quite hard to always be in
that cycle of recruiting new people, bedding them in, making sure they know
what they’re doing, getting that kind of team together around the board table. So
that’s quite a high figure as well. We’re going to talk about the steps. We’ve got
a nice leaflet here, let me just show you. It’s very basic
but it’s about trustee recruitment and any of you who have been to the stand may have
picked this up. Through it we just go through some steps that are probably good
to think about when you’re thinking about trustee recruitment. I’m going to
go through these at quite a high level but hopefully some of these
will give some some interesting pointers to things that you’ve probably thought
about already but if you haven’t then you might go and think about those. I
suppose the first thing to always say is, you have a governing document and there
may be some very specific rules and you may be restricted on
who you can and cannot have on your board and that’s the first place to
start who can you not have on our board, who can you have on your board
and sometimes you may need somebody specific. You might need sever user
representation, you might need membership on the board, you might need to co-opt
people onto the board, councilors some people have councilors on the board, that’s
part of their governing document – so going back and looking at the governing
document and seeing if there are any restrictions, what does that see to us,
let’s just be clear about that. I’m sure all of you have dusted off your
governing document lately but we are we’re always quite surprised… we’re not
surprised, I’m not surprised at all because I’m in my day job I’m very, very
good at governance and my other job when I realise how challenging it
can be and to sort of think of getting that governing document and looking and studying all these details, it’s not the most exciting thing
in the world. But we do hear a lot of charities who say “oh I haven’t seen
the government document for 10 years, 15 years” – so dust it down and check you’ve
got the rules right because sometimes it will be very helpful in terms of
deciding what you do. Now I think when we talk about a skills audit it seems sort
of big and legally complicated but I suppose all a skills audit means
means is like just thinking about the board that you have and the board that
you would like to have. And the board that you end up having will probably be
somewhere in the middle of that so you know you probably can’t get everything
that you want. But having an understanding of the skills on your board is quite
important in terms of finding the gaps and and one of the boards that I
sit on, I sit on the Corra Foundation and when I recently joined they already knew some of my skills but they
did a skills form and we had to fill in everything that we were good at –
massively long of course – and things where we felt we had something to offer
the organisation so we filled that in. So therefore then, I have an
oversight of the board and as they’re thinking of the next board recruitment
they can think about where the gaps exist. But that’s quite a complicated
organisation, quite a sophisticated organisation. If you have a small
organisation it might just mean a chat around your board like we’ve got
this, we’ve got this, where are the gaps that we have at the moment and I
think sometimes that may actually change over time, the context may change. When
we think about what happened last year with the safeguarding malarkey that
went on and all the chat around that, there were organisations who were
suddenly a little bit nervous about that and they might have suddenly thought
well maybe you could have a little bit more safeguarding expertise on our board
for instance. So therefore you might go and seek that person to actually have
oversight. Now clearly, there is no getting away from it,
these things are collective responsibilities but having the skills
on the board to help have these discussions in the right way, to help
have the right level of oversight, can be very useful. Your board might change
over time depending on how you’re changing, how you’re developing, how
you’re growing. Some small charities don’t really get very
excited about having some fundraising expert on their board but actually as you’re growing, if you’re
growing, if you’re investing in fundraising, you might want to have that
oversight on your board. You might want to have someone who’s got specific skills
in that area. So, your board may change over time. Some level of skills audit
in terms of recruitment is useful. Attract and advertise. Already some
of you around the room have talked a little bit about this. Again, if you have a great service and people know it, you’re
sort of advertising yourself every day by what you actually do and by what
you’re doing in the community. But if you’re going to be looking for new
trustees and you want to reach out somewhere else where you haven’t reached
out before, you need to be able to express that in a way that people will
understand, that people get excited about. People could see how their contribution
mainly a difference. Just having some way of capturing
that in a simple way for a new audience is quite important. And so, what does the
charity do? What difference does it make? Then find a place that you’d want to
advertise. And when we say advertise, that sounds quite expensive.
Of course if you go to put an ad in The Guardian or in
The Times or in the whatever, that is expensive. But there’s so many, many more
different places. I think the idea of having something that’s more communal is
quite interesting but at the moment there are a number of places where you
have roles that are advertised for trustees. I’ve just put
newspapers, that’s a bit general but you know good moves which is SCVO,
they have trustee rules advertised. Some of these are free,
some of these are not free but they’re often not massively massively expensive
so sometimes it’s worth investing in them. Obviously you’ve got job sites, but
the ones at the bottom volunteer Scotland increasingly have roles
advertised, they have trustee rules because trustees are volunteers. The small
charities coalition does a very good job of getting trustees
opportunities for smaller charities up there and I’ve only put an example up there but there will be other
people who are offering that opportunity, to put your opportunities, up there so it
gets a slightly wider audience. Clearly, and we’ve talked about this before, not
everybody loves social media and not everybody uses social media but if
you’re on social media you can find ways of using that to advertise your
positions and get that message out there and that can be an effective way and
very often does reach a different audience depending on who is on your Facebook page, who’s on your Instagram, who’s on your Twitter and
so on. I’ve put professional associations up there. Not so often that you can
get an advert in there, although sometimes you can, but professional associations
are increasingly sometimes trying to encourage their
membership to get involved in trusteeships. The Institute of Fundraising for instance encourages its members to think about
that as something they could give back to the organisation, not just in a
practical role on the ground but as a trustee in a board and there are
other professional associations that do that. And then there’s that wider issue
of private companies who are freeing up their staff actually and
giving free time to release them into the wilderness as trustees and so there’s some times in your local
environment there may be a company that wants to give their staff
some development opportunities and that might be a way again of attracting someone in and again that’s like about putting an advert on their notice board or
talking to the person who’s in charge of that bit of the business in
the company and so on. So, there’s ways of reaching out to new audiences. Now when
you’ve done all this fantastic work you obviously get hundreds of people beating
down your door and going “I’d love to be your trustee!” so then you have to choose
the right person for that for the job. Now clearly that doesn’t happen very
often but for my Cora position I was formerly interviewed because
they got a lot more people for the role than they actually needed. So there was
a very formal interview but even if you’re not choosing between six
or seven different people you might still want to have that initial
conversation to check that the expectations are the same on each side.
Does the person know what they’re coming in to? Do they really want
to take that on board? Yes, you want the numbers but you do want the
quality as well. You want somebody who’s engaged with that so having some initial
conversation with them, some kind of interview, structured in some way so
that there’s a mutual respect and mutual shared expectation about the role the trustee is going to take on. I think it is quite important. And then
of course you’ve got to go back to your governing document because there’ll be
different ways of electing them onto your board and you’ll all have done that
in the past, you’ll all have been in a process, it might be your
membership has to vote, whatever that is,
you got to follow your governing document and get the people on board. I
put down there trustee declaration forms not because there’s something
sacrosanct about them but it is quite a good thing about having a formal
agreement with the trustee saying this is what I’m signing up to. When a charity gets registered with us, we do
ask for a trustee declaration form but we don’t do it later on in the process
when you’re getting new trustees. So finding a way of just
formalising that I think it’s quite important in terms of the relationship,
the ongoing relationship, you have with your trustees. This in a
sense sort of speaks to a couple points people have raised about the
handover, about what you do with your new trustees. I think induction is a very
important thing. Now, induction again sounds like something big and
complicated, or can sound like something big and complicated, but it’s really
about just making sure that the person who’s coming in is getting the
information they need to hit the ground if not running at least not taking
fairy steps – actually being able to contribute from an early stage around
that board table. So that induction process is great it’s quite important.
Now again, if you have a fairly large established charity that’s quite
complicated you will probably have a well established induction program. When
I started with Corra I got massive folders, it’s like gold
plated. Of course they knew I was from OSCR so I don’t know if the got it swish by then! But fairly nice with all the basic documents in them and there may be all these
different things, you know, what’s the purposes, what’s the vision, what’s your
key policies. You know, what you do about staffing or what is your staffing
complement – all this basic stuff that you would expect to know as a
board member to understand the organisation. And then beside that we did
some key meetings with key staff. We sat down, we understood a bit from their
perspective what it was they felt they were trying to achieve and in the next
month or so we’re going to visit some of the work on the ground stuff that
they’re supporting, because they obviously are a funder and just
to understand the work on the ground. So, that has been, to me, a very good
induction process. I have been to one board meeting and one other committee
meeting and I already feel that I can contribute in a constructive
way to that discussion. I don’t feel out of my depth so that induction processes
is important. Now again, you’ve got to make it fit your organisation. So if you
have a small tiny organisation you do not need a big complex
induction process, you probably just need to see what are the key policies that we
have – if you’re working with vulnerable people for instance do you have a safeguarding policy,
where is this, where is that. Get those basic things together, sit down
with a new trustee and make sure you know what you’re doing. I think the
idea of mentoring comes in well here. Sometimes
either before they become a trustee, or in the first year of being a trustee
depending on how confident they are, having something set up that
kind of helps mentor people into their roles is a pretty pretty powerful thing
in terms of giving people the confidence to really contribute to the organisation. Now I’m coming to the end of what I’m going to say now but one of the
challenges that we have here is that whole issue of how do we get younger people
involved in this. I see younger people around this room, certainly
younger than me and I am not old, but I think
the average age is… where’s Miles?What’s the average age? It was 57 and has
gone up to 62! That’s really going in the wrong direction. So the average age of a charity trustee is 62 so we need to start bringing that down and I think we
have seen a number of very positive things going on at the moment to try to
build up the idea that young people don’t just have to volunteer on the
ground, they can also volunteer as trustees in a way that can be extremely
good for an organisation both in terms of bringing new ideas in onto the board
but also in terms of that succession planning. In fact, if you get young
people sucked into that that life of trusteeship early on and then the
signs are that they will do that throughout their life and you’ve got a convert
there that will contribute, maybe not always to your charity but they will be
somebody who’s contributing to the sector overall. So I think working with
that population is a massively positive thing to do and obviously when you’re
recruiting a younger population you have to think where you are
advertising, how you’re doing it, are you attracting the right people but it’s the same
kind of stuff – have you got the right induction in place, what would it look
like for this young person, do they need slightly longer mentoring because they’re
slightly more cautious about doing it. At the trustees’ week event last
year in November we had a very very good presentation in from a young
trustee who talked both about what she’s been able to contribute as a young trustee but also the challenges and barriers that had been put in her way to
become a young trustee and it was extremely enlightening because
sometimes we put barriers up to things without meaning to and without it being intentional but she talked very eloquently about how
she felt she had a lot to offer, she didn’t feel she had more to offer than
anybody else, but she had something to offer and it was often quite
different from some of the other people around that board table. So, encouraging
that participation is quite good. We should have a blog at some point quite
soon on our website from this very individual so we’ll be chasing that up
soon it but it’s worth a read to understand that. But as I say there
are some really good initiatives at the moment and we have Miles in the room so
if anybody wants to ask about Get on board Napier program for young trustees
he’s your man. There’s also an initiative that started relatively recently, I think
it was just last year, in the middle of last year but its being run by
International Voluntary Service and it’s about young trustees, getting young
people involved in trusteeship so these are two things but my sense is, and Miles
could probably say more, is that these are things that are beginning to
happen elsewhere as well in other universities and other colleges, in other
places and I think that there’s a place that if you have the
capacity to bring on a young trustee and give them the appropriate support that
could actually really yield dividends for your charity and for the sector
of going forward. So I think that’s a that’s a positive thing.

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