Friday, 4 November 2011

Recruiting excellent trustees

It's Trustees' Week this week (30th October - 6th November 2011). On Wednesday, I wrote on five reasons to be a trustee and as I mentioned, a 2009 report by New Philanthropy Capital quoted research showing that 48% of charities have at least one vacancy on their board of trustees. So, how do we recruit excellent trustees for our boards? Having recruited trustees, I know it's not always the easiest thing to do. But here are five questions I ask when thinking about recruit trustees:
  1. Have we discussed the recruitment process with our current board?: It's crucial to check whether the board is ready new members to the board. . This is so that new board members need to feel welcomed and valued as first impressions really are important;
  2. What expertise is (and isn't) on our board?: I've always found that if trustees have a broad variety of fields of expertise (e.g. marketing, HR, finance) and if they are drawn from across the spectrum of private sector, public sector and the voluntary sector, it increases the board's effectiveness in making wise decisions;
  3. How diverse is our board?: Diversity is vital, not just because it is sensible to include people affected by decisions or policy but also because it means different experiences and perspectives are made, leading to better decision making;
  4. How are we describing our charity and the role of being a trustee?: Being clear about the type of people you want to recruit, the skills they should have and what their role will entail is really important. The way you describe your charity will also help you in recruiting the right people. Are you clear about what your vision and mission are? When I've been clear about this, it's been easier to recruit people;
  5. Do our recruitment methods match the type of people we want to recruit?: Different recruitment methods have their pros and cons. The New Philanthropy Capital report Board Matters (mentioned above) usefully lists some advantages and disadvantages of different ways to recruit trustees. This includes word of mouth, advertising, using a recruitment firm and - ever increasingly - social media. But, if you are trying to recruit a specific type of person, does your method of recruitment match what they are going to see? For example, recruiting a 50 year old through social media might be quite difficult, but using it as part of your strategy to attract someone under the age of 30 could work quite well.
If you are thinking of recruiting trustees, this pack from NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisaitons) is an excellent tool

13:00 update: @camydeacon from NCVO has contacted me to say that there is another pack aimed at helping smaller charities recruit trustees here

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