Category Archives: trusteeship

Launching Committee Pathways, June 2018

For those of you who have been following #trusteehour on twitter, you’ll know that Miles Weaver and I are pretty motivated by supporting others to take on a charity trustee role with confidence.  We’re both involved in a range of projects connected with this end in mind.

There is, however, a reality check sometimes.   When I was speaking about charity trustee roles with an audience from a Young Person’s Network, I was left with a sense of a roomful of 20-somethings keen to have come along to find out more, but some of whom were daunted by the prospect of what might be involved.  Some young people do indeed take on charity trustee roles, and talk positively about that experience.  These contributions to #trusteehour prove the point:

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For others, it may feel like too much too soon.

If only there could be a way to gain experience, without being exposed to the full legal duties and responsibilities involved……

At the ‘Unconference’ session during the Trustees’ Week 2017 event in Edinburgh, I facilitated a workshop group exploring ideas around how to encourage a pipeline of new (and younger) trustees.  The concept of an apprenticeship was discussed. A charity would however need to have time and resources to support the creation of this kind of temporary role.  For busy and stretched charities, this might not always be easy.

Since the Unconference session, we’ve been thinking about how to help fill this gap.  After some discussions with umbrella groups to test the concept, we’re now ready to rollout Committee Pathways.

Committee Pathways is intended to be an enabling online platform where committee role vacancies can be shared.  It lives on twitter @Pathways_C

For those following the competency pathway for trustees in use at Edinburgh Napier University, a committee role would be one way to gain some governance-related experience.  At the same time, a committee role might be exactly the right ‘fit’ for someone of any age happy to share their expertise with a charity in a non-trustee role, finding that the time commitment better reflects what they’re able to take on.

Here’s the first selection of committee roles shared:

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Now, to turn to the supply side.  Does your charity’s governing document allow non-trustees to be co-opted onto committees?  Could your charity do with a few extra pairs of hands on one or more of your committees?  If the answers are ‘yes’, then we can help to publicise your vacancies.

If your charity is on twitter, tweet about your vacancy, with a role profile and closing date.  Use the handle @Pathways_C and we’ll spot and share your vacancy online.  If you’re not on twitter, could someone else help to post your vacancy online?

The second half of 2018 will be a pilot to gauge how this approach might help to support attracting new entrants into future trustee roles.  It’s entirely possible that a committee role could later lead to a board role opportunity.   Taking on a committee role enables someone to get to know a charity, find out more about how it operates ‘on the inside’ and get to know others involved in running the charity.  It could be a positive volunteering experience in itself and a great confidence-builder and pathway towards a future trustee role.

The supply and demand side both need to emerge for Committee Pathways to have impact.  Time will tell.  We’re offering this as a pilot for the second half of the year, and we’ll see how it goes.  It’s the theme for July’s #trusteehour on Thursday 19th July 8-9pm – join the conversation online @trusteehour to explore more.

Julie Hutchison, 13 June 2018

Founder @InformedTrustee

Co-Founder @trusteehour and @Pathways_C

 

Guest blog by @juliekhutchison – reflecting on #trusteehour 7

With over 7,000 views, our topic for May’s #trusteehour clearly struck a chord – what research should you do before saying yes to a charity trustee role? Thanks to @RummleGumption for the theme idea.
Here are the top tips shared:
1. Basic due diligence online means checking out a charity’s website; googling for news stories involving the charity; look at their accounts online; look at their information on the charity regulator’s website. Thanks to @ian_mcl for his list of these.
2. Think people and culture, as @friend_natasha points out:

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3. Look carefully to find out about the exact legal structure of the charity. There are two main kinds. One is unincorporated (for example a trust or an unincorporated association). The other is incorporated (for example a company limited by guarantee, or a CIO in England and Wales, or SCIO in Scotland). This latter type offers a bit more liability protection for charity trustees and has other benefits, such as contracts can be in the name of the charity instead of individual trustees.
4. Find out if the charity has indemnity insurance in place. Some do, some don’t. For unincorporated charities, this was seen as being particularly important:

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5. Consider practical things, like location, which day of the week are board meetings held, and at what time. Those practical points could rule a potential trustee role in or out – also check out skype/video conference options, which might be specifically enabled in a charity’s governing document:

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6. Do you get any help from your employer? There was mixed experience with this one, with some employers actively offering paid leave to support employees who take on voluntary roes:

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7. If things get to the interview stage, ask for a copy of the governing document if it’s not otherwise available online – worth a read in advance:

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8. Understand what the time commitment is going to be. Will there be committee meetings as well as board meetings? Will you be expected to ‘represent’ the charity and be an ambassador at events, as @sallyld points out:

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9. To help make sure you are not ‘out of pocket’ in taking on a trustee role, what expenses does the charity offer to refund? It’s normal to find travel expenses can be refunded, for traveling to and from a board meeting. But there might be more help available. @ian_mcl shared an interesting idea for charity boards, which may help encourage younger candidates to consider a trustee role:

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10. If you’re in Scotland, check out @GoodHQ for reviews and comments on charities in Scotland – this can help you research a role:

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Two blogs were shared.  The first was a guest blog I wrote for OSCR’s website with top ten tips on due diligence.  The second blog was from @CT_charities, which made a good point about checking if induction support is available for new trustees.
And finally, news of our next #trusteehour on Tuesday 12th June 8-9pm – the topic is ‘When is it time for a trustee to step down?’ with thanks to @MairWCVA for the theme idea.

Blog by Julie Hutchison @juliekhutchison
Founding Editor of @InformedTrustee
5 June 2018