As Trustees' Week 2021 draws to a close I wanted to share some of my reflections and experiences of working with multiple organisations seeking suitable trustees. It's been a fantastic week with so much engaging content made available that has really shone the spotlight on how rewarding a trustee role can be.
Why is it that people think they can make a difference to a charity by joining the Board as a Trustee? Whether or not they have a demanding life, perhaps with a busy job, multiple commitments to family or caring responsibilities, there will always be these very special individuals who will find the time in their lives to volunteer for a charity in this way.
Being a Trustee can be such a rewarding experience where you really can feel that you are influencing the way that services are delivered and decisions are made to benefit others in need. During many of our recruitment assignments over the years, our team at Charisma have always focused not only on the skills that individuals can bring to the Board, but also take extra special care to understand their motivations to do this.
One of our recent assignments has been to partner with a social care charity where they specifically were looking for greater diversity on age, gender and ethnicity, on their board, with defined skills sets, as well as lived-experience of mental health and poverty. The requirement also was for selected candidates to have had experience of acting at Board level which could have excluded younger potential candidates who would not yet have had the opportunities in their career to have built up their exposure of Board level activity. After careful discussion with the Chair this point was acknowledged and an exception was made for younger trustees to allow them to bring their skills to the table and for trustee training to be offered.
Understanding what questions to ask through exploratory discussions with a candidate are key to trying to bring out the real reasons for their wish to apply. Identifying and exploring lived-experience is not an easy subject, unless individuals are in agreement to share this experience, safely, with our consultants. To be honest, being able to share their ‘journey’ during a confidential interview with the consultant, to explain their motivation for applying, is important to them, to set out what fundamentally matters to them and what value they could bring. We find that people are extraordinarily forthcoming and open in sharing their experiences and there is no doubt that articulating their empathy for the charity comes naturally, especially when it is genuine.
Finding these unique individuals and then valuing and nurturing them during their trustee journey is a skill in itself! Charisma consultants take their role very seriously in identifying people with the required skills, background, subject knowledge and passion/empathy for the cause in order to put a high quality short list of candidates forward to the Chair and panel. Once appointed, it becomes the responsibility of the Chair, existing Trustees, CEO and management team, to induct and support the new Trustees successfully in order that everyone benefits from their involvement and commitment to the charity. A buddy-scheme is often set up so that new Trustees are supported throughout their first term and everyone needs to play their part in the vision and mission of the organisation.
The team at Charisma are always happy to have a no obligation and confidential chat with both Chairs or CEOs seeking to recruit new Board members, as well as people wishing to explore the opportunity of becoming Trustees, so please don't hesitate to get in touch. If you are interested in becoming a trustee, then you can some of the roles we are currently working on by visiting here.
Finally, it feels right at the end of Trustees' Week 2021 to thank all of you who serve in this way across such a wonderful sector, making a difference and impact in every single corner of our society.