Key ways to improve charity boards in 2015
27 January 2015 – Just over half (55%) of trustees surveyed by Trustees Unlimited said that having better and more frequent communication between board meetings is the number one factor that would improve the quality of their meetings and enhance their board performance.
Trustees Unlimited questioned its database of 2,000 trustees to find out how board meetings and performance could be improved in 2015.
Other improvements suggested included having shorter meetings, better Chaired meetings and greater contribution and input encouraged from all trustees.
The trustees said that their own performance would be improved with more ongoing training opportunities (42 per cent) and in particular, training on governance matters.
Whilst 23% of trustees stated that their board discusses their governance performance at every meeting, almost half (47%) of charities review it just once a year, and 10 per cent never discuss it at all. 39% agreed that having regular governance reviews would improve the way their board functions in 2015 and many of the trustees felt they would benefit from training on governance matters.
Ian Joseph, Chief Executive, Trustees Unlimited says: “January is an ideal time for charities to reflect on how well they are running their boards and look at what improvements are needed to increase effectiveness in the next 12 months.”
“Having regular governance reviews and board appraisals should be part and parcel of an effectively run charity. Governance reviews don’t have to be onerous. They can be part of a discussion at a board meeting or an away day – what’s important is that they take place regularly and that all trustees are fully up to speed with governance matters.”
A third of trustees felt that having regular away days and social events to help them get to know each other would also help.
Ian added: “Our survey highlighted that trustees want greater contact between meetings, updates on actions and more social events so they can bond outside meetings. With email, text messages and social media, it has never been easier to stay in touch and charities need to stay on top of this.”
The survey also found that whilst just over half of trustees are on a three year fixed term of office, the survey revealed that around a third are on no fixed term contracts and can stay as long as they choose.
Ian Joseph concluded: “If trustees don’t have fixed term contracts there is a real risk boards will stagnate and trustees will lose enthusiasm if they stay too long. How boards conduct their performance assessments, skills audits and the contribution trustees make to a charity’s growth is an important subject. We hope these issues will be high on the agenda for organisations this year and we’ll also be working closely with charities to support them in these areas.”
About Trustees Unlimited
Established in October 2009, Trustees Unlimited and its sister organisation Non Executives Unlimited are joint venture between NCVO, Bates Wells & Braithwaite, and Russam GMS to provide a solution to the problem many not for profit organisations face – trying to recruit high quality trustees in a rigorous and yet cost effective way. All the partners are industry leaders. Bates Wells & Braithwaite is the leading law firm in the Third Sector offering an extensive range of services and is recognised as a thought leader; Russam GMS is a leading provider of Interim Managers. It also provides a senior level executive search services for the Not for Profit – handling their most important roles and as well as an international resourcing capability in over 40 countries. NCVO is the umbrella body for the voluntary sector which has a pre-eminent reputation in relation to governance and trusteeship. In 1992 NCVO recognised the help organisations and trustees needed in this area and has provided dedicated support in governance and leadership to the sector ever since.
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