Let’s talk about trustees, board diversity and succession planning

During Trustees’ Week two years ago, I shared some data and thoughts about the diversity of trustee boards. Back then, the picture revealed that trustee boards didn’t reflect society in all of its diversity; just 0.5% of trustees were aged between 18 and 24 and two-thirds were over 50.

My feelings then were that charities could do more to make trusteeship appealing and accessible, by thinking about the barriers to becoming trustees and actively trying to reduce them, by being clear on what the role involved and what the charity is all about, by considering what gaps are on the board of trustees, by offering training, induction and mentoring.

And now? Having spent two more years supporting charities, my feelings are much the same, something which may be borne out by updated research findings released yesterday. The research commissioned by the Office for Civil Society and the Charity Commission makes these key findings:

  • Men outnumber women trustees on boards by two to one
  • The vast majority (92%) of trustees are white, older and above average income and education
  • 71% of charity chairs are men and 68% of charity treasurers are men
  • The average age of trustees is 55-64 years; over half (51%) are retired
  • 75% of trustees have household incomes above the national median
  • 60% of trustees have a professional qualification; 30% have post-graduate qualifications
  • 71% of trustees are recruited through an informal process
  • In 80% of charities trustees play both a governance role and an executive role – they have no staff or volunteers from whom they can seek support
  • 70% of trustees are involved in charities with an income of less than £100k a year
  • Trustees report lacking relevant legal, digital, fundraising, marketing and campaigning skills at board level
  • Trustees are concerned about their skills in dealing with fraud and external cyber-attack
  • Trustees seek support and advice from one another – 80% of all respondents regard this as their most important internal source of advice and support, with only 6% seeking guidance or training from an external provider
  • On average, trustees donate almost 5 hours a week to their trustee roles

It should be said that according to the Charity Commission, “researchers surveyed a sample of 19,064 trustees, via a national survey in January 2017. Around 3,500 trustees responded to the survey.”

I’d like to know more about what the research findings mean by ‘an informal process’ that accounts for 71% of trustees recruited. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making a process more informal to reduce barriers (as long as constitutional requirements are followed), but if by ‘an informal process’ the research means ‘word of mouth’ or ‘asking around networks’ then that might account for a lack of diversity on trustee boards. In my experience (and in the experience of others), the majority of trustee recruitment is done by asking people personally. It’s understandable; trustees get a sense of someone’s skills and quickly see how they could add great value to their board. But this can have its drawbacks and make boards less diverse than they can be. Charities risk casting their net too narrowly, in a pool in which people are already in demand or already giving time to other charities; trustees may only ask people like them to become trustees. The risk here is that no-one asks the obvious questions, no-one brings different perspectives, no-one asks more difficult questions. Diverse boards make the best decisions.

Diverse boards make the best decisions and it isn’t surprising that the updated Code of Governance makes diversity a principal in its own right. On top of that, board composition, recruitment and skills are integral to principal 5 of the Code of Governance, ‘Board effectiveness‘. I’ve worked with many charities on trustee recruitment and the most successful ones are those that recruit through a planned process. Many have approached us desperate for trustees because a current trustee (or, more often than not, a whole group of trustees) will retire. Sometimes, it feels that the need to recruit trustees has been identified too late (and that’s when a planned process goes out of the window and people ask anyone who might be willing out of sheer desperation). Think about how unappealing it would be to be asked to become a trustee because the current trustees want to resign! This doesn’t give time to help new trustees to understand their roles and settle in and it could be very destabilising.

What I’m talking about is succession planning, an important though sometimes overlooked task of a board. It’s about striking a balance between continuity and fresh ideas and perspectives, . Here are some steps I’m currently taking some charities through:

1. Consider what barriers there are to people becoming trustees 

Knowing the barriers mean you can then work to reduce them!

 

2.  Follow your governing document and the law

Who is eligible to be a trustee? What is the minimum and maximum number of trustees you should have? How are trustees appointed?

 

3. Make sure your trustees are ready for new trustees

Understand what skills you currently have and think about what skills you need. Think about how you will welcome, train and induct a new trustee. Make sure current trustees are open to new ideas and input (the charity doesn’t belong to any one person)

 

4. Draw up role descriptions and person specifications

You should have a clear picture of what you want from a trustee and people should know what’s expected of them

 

5. Develop a way people can apply to become a trustee

What information should they receive? What processes will you use? Application? Interview? Invitation to a meeting? Who should they contact? How will they be welcomed? How will you train them? How will they be appointed?

 

6.  Target people and promote your vacancy 

If you’re looking for people with specific skills, think about: Where they might work;  What publications / websites they might read; How you will target them. Promote your vacancy as widely as possible, not just in your own networks.

 

7. Consider how you will welcome and induct new trustees 

Think about how to make any new trustees feel welcome. For instance, introduce them to trustees and staff, consider buddying, provide documents, plans and ongoing training and support.

And for Trustees’ Week, I wanted to share some useful resources and stories that others have shared which might be helpful for you:

Finally, I’m happy to support any Dudley borough charity that wants to think about succession planning, board diversity and recruitment and to work with trustees to improve their skills. Equally, if anyone is interested in becoming a trustee, I’d love to have a chat and link you up with charities that do wonderful work. As well as running regular drop ins with Eileen on the first Wednesday of each month, I’d like to know from you whether there is any appetite for specific events and activities around aspects of trusteeship. This might be a regular network of trustees, training and other support I might not have thought of! Feel free to let me know what might work for you and your trustees.

Thirty years supporting people who have suffered a stroke and their families

Anne Adams, Dudley CVS Trustee, has been supporting people who have suffered a stroke and their families for more than thirty years and is now up for an award for her lifelong dedication to helping others.

After forming Dudley Stroke Association in 1987, Anne still devotes many hours of her time to the organisation, supporting people who have been affected by strokes throughout their journey to better health.

Through the organisation, Anne also coordinates evening events, coffee mornings, day trips and lunch clubs for people who have been through a stroke. Anne said:

“Our motto ever since we started in 1987 is ‘there is life after stroke’ because people who have been through it feel so isolated and alone before they realise support is out there.”

In 1977, Anne worked as a speech therapist with people affected by stroke. In those early days, Anne was convinced more could be done to help both the person suffering a stroke and their loved ones. In 1982, Anne formed the Dudley Stroke Club to provide opportunities to share experiences and organise social events. But specific information about how to help people post-stroke was very limited.

In 1987, a stroke victim, Jeanne Hignett, encouraged Anne to create Dudley Stroke Association.

Between 1987 and 2007 Anne wore two hats, by day a professional speech therapist and at other times a volunteer champion of the work of Dudley Stroke Association and people affected by stroke.

Anne retired from paid work in 2007, but continued to give her time volunteering with the Dudley Stroke Association.

About her 25 years as a Dudley CVS Board Member, Anne said, “Dudley Stroke Association is indebted to Dudley CVS for the help and support we have received over many years, particularly when we were applying for Charity status. Dudley Stroke association would not be where it is today without Dudley CVS. I feel privileged to be a Board Member.”

Today, Anne has been nominated for volunteer of the year at the Great Big Thank You Awards.

Anne said: “If I won the Volunteer of the Year Award, it would really be for everyone who has helped make the group what it is today. It would be for all the people who have worked so hard to overcome their obstacles. For all those people who have tried so hard to get their lives back on track after going through such a difficult time.”

Each day, until November 18th special vote tokens will be published in the Express & Star to collect. For more information on how to vote for Anne visit: http://www.starthankyou.expressandstar.co.uk/

Dudley CVS Trustee, Mary Turner, appointed Governor with The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust

Mary-Turner picLast week I had the pleasure of meeting with long standing Dudley CVS trustee, Mary Turner, to talk about her new role as an appointed Governor supporting the continued development of The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust.

Appointed in February this year, Mary will provide a vital link between the Trust and the community, representing and reflecting the interests of local people to improve health services and patient experience for the future.

What will this mean for local people?

“We have greater freedom from central government control in the way we develop and deliver healthcare services. It means that the Trust can deliver services that meet the needs and priorities of the local population and ensure they are providing services local people want, in the way they wish to have them delivered.” Mary then told me quite simply, “It’s about giving local people a voice.”

I asked Mary to tell me more about what the role will entail.

“Part of my role will include gathering views from local people and groups to identify and gain an awareness of general health trends to feedback to the Trust. It will involve working closely with Healthwatch Dudley and Dudley CVS’s Carer Co-ordinator to build up knowledge of what’s happening in the community.”

Mary’s working life started in the nursing profession but the majority of her professional career has been in social work and community development. After realising that her real passion was to work with families rather than in hospitals, Mary worked for many years for children’s charity, Barnardos. During her time here, she seconded to complete social work training and went on to manage services for children and their families.

With a wealth of knowledge and experience gained over her long career in social work and community development, Mary will quite aptly sit on the Foundation Trusts ‘Experience and Engagement’ subgroup.

Although now officially retired, Mary still works in the borough in a voluntary capacity mainly with Home-Start Dudley, (an organisation supporting families with young children) which she has supported for over 20 years, also, Dudley’s adoption panel as well as being a school governor and working within Dudley CVS.

This all keeps Mary very busy, but like a super-hero, she still finds time for leisure activities and spending time with family, particularly her seven wonderful grandchildren! She tells me “No two days are the same!”

“I have lived, worked, volunteered, and raised four children in the Dudley Borough. I consider myself to have some knowledge and understanding of the needs and views of the people and their communities.”

After listening to Mary’s story I can see why she is the perfect person to represent Dudley CVS and local people as an appointed Governor with the Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

If you would like more information on how to get in touch with Mary about general health trends that are affecting your community, contact Dudley CVS admin@dudleycvs.org.uk

Hints and tips on creating a charity

You might have seen that at the tail end of last year, I shared some lovely news about three organisations I’ve been supporting that successfully became registered charities. I thought it might be good to give some insight into the processes these organisations went through and share some hints and tips for making a successful application. Continue reading

Celebrate Small Charity Week with us!

Small Charity Week 2016We’re really pleased to be joining Small Charity Week (13th-18th June) again this year and want to invite Dudley borough’s small charities to help us celebrate and put your organisation and Dudley on the map!

“Small Charity Week celebrates and raises awareness of the essential work of the UK’s small charity sector who make an invaluable contribution to the lives of millions of individuals, communities and causes across the UK and the rest of the world.

Small Charity Week is brought to you by the Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI), who with the support of partner organisations ensure the work of small charities is recognised and celebrated.”

Small Charity Week website

The FSI defines small charities as charities and CICs that have an annual turnover of under £1.5million and we know that that will cover a lot of community organisations in Dudley borough, because the overwhelming majority of charities are small.

Like last year, the week is divided into themed days, and here’s how you can get involved:

  • Monday 13th June – join the #ILoveSmallCharities celebrations on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by by posting a photo of yourself holding a poster showing why you love your small charity? You could get your members and supporters to join in too! And doing so could win your charity up to £450 in the process. Visit the #ILoveSmallCharities page for more information. I’ll be joining in by posting some stories here about some of the small charities I’ve recently supported.
  • Tuesday 14th June is Big Advice Day – Eileen and I will be on hand at DY1, Dudley for a special, mid-month DY1 stop shop. Pop into DY1 between 10am and 4pm to get guidance on any topic to do with running a voluntary and community organisation. We can cover topics such as:

– setting up
– legal structures and compliance
– policies
– asset transfer and development
– fundraising and finance
– involving and supporting volunteers
– planning
– promotion and marketing

And if you can’t make it, we’ll be monitoring our Twitter, Facebook and this here blog so that you can ask questions virtually.

  • On Policy Day, Wednesday 15th June, our friend and colleague Donna Roberts will be sharing how Working Together for Change, Dudley borough’s parent-carer forum, has successfully worked with and influenced decision-makers in the design and delivery of local services. Look out for her hints and tips on this blog.
  • Thursday 16th June is Fundraising Day – you’re invited to Synergy, the peer support network for Dudley borough’s charities and social enterprises, organised by our friend Andy Mullaney. Martin Jones, our Funding Officer, will be joining the event to share his insight and experiences when it comes to raising money for your cause. The event will be held at DY1, Dudley, 10am-12noon.
  • And finally! Friday 17th June is Volunteering Day – Eileen is planning a networking and support event for local small charities, including social enterprises, who involve volunteers. There’ll be an opportunity to meet new people, build connections and find out who’s out there to support, with hints and tips on the best way to involve volunteers. The event will run from 10am-12 noon. If you’d like to join this event, please book your place on Eventbrite.

We hope you’ll be able to join some of these activities and join us in celebrating the wonderful work our small charities do day in, day out.

 

DY1-stop shop: Open door for anyone involved or wanting to be involved in community initiatives, charities or enterprises

DY1-stop shop poster for socmed

On Wednesday 2nd March, Eileen and I are launching DY1-stop shop! We’ll be throwing open DY1’s doors to anyone who wants to chat through anything to do with:

  • Setting up a project or group – information and guidance on how to get started, what routes you could take, how to get support
  • Running a charity or voluntary organisation – you might want information on leading an organisation, responsibilities of being a trustee, compliance, help with rules and paperwork, finance, planning
  • Recruiting and supporting people to help run your group or activities – you might be looking for volunteers or helpers to make great things happen
  • Getting more active in your community – you might be interested in volunteering, joining local groups, clubs and organisations
  • Connecting with other organisations

Whether you’re from an existing voluntary group, charity or social enterprise, or you’d like to do more to support your community, come along to get your questions answered, generate ideas and feel supported all over a friendly cuppa!

Drop in on us anytime between 10am and 1pm in the coffee shop area of DY1, Stafford Street, Dudley, DY1 1RT. This will continue on the first Wednesday of every month.

We’re looking forward to meeting you there!

How can we improve the diversity of trustee boards?

 

The Trustees’ Week website has lots of useful information about becoming a trustee, recruiting trustees and topics related to running a charity.

Amongst its posts is one piece about trustee facts and figures, which says:

  • There are over 1,000,000 trustee positions in England and Wales;
  • Estimates suggest that almost half of charities have at least one vacancy on their board;
  • Just 0.5% of trustees in England and Wales are aged between 18 and 24, (compared with 12% of the population as a whole);
  • The average age of trustees in England and Wales is 57, two thirds are aged 50 and over.
  • 43.4% of trustees are female, and 56% are male(Each trustee is counted only once, though some are trustees for more than one charity. The figure for female trustees should be treated as a minimum as only those whose titles are certainly female are included).

Continue reading

Spotlight on Dudley CVS Trustee, Alison Sayer.

Earlier this year, (July 2015) I had the pleasure of interviewingAlison 04 cropped Alison Sayer, Chief Executive Officer of Halas Homes in Halesowen (www.halashomes.co.uk), for an article in the Dudley CVS Echo newsletter. Alison has been a Dudley CVS Board member since 2013, bringing with her a particular expertise in Human Resources and seemingly boundless energy.

I asked Alison to tell more about Halas Homes, which is akin to lighting the blue touch paper on a firework. “Halas Homes has been caring for people with learning difficulties for over 50 years. Today, it is a 24/7 residential care home for up to 36 adults with learning difficulties,” replied Alison, adding, “the adjacent day centre is open to residents and non-residents and hosts a wide variety of daily activities to aid health and wellbeing. There are also five ‘supported living’ homes for people with a degree of independence,” and by the way, “Halas Homes won a top award last year, picking up the Creative Arts Award in the national 3rd Sector Care Awards 2014. The award was presented by TV personality and campaigner, Esther Rantzen.”

Coming from a background in hospitality, Alison refers to the residents and the people who use the day centre as ‘customers.’  “It’s really important to find out as much as possible about our customers so that we can design services and activities that provide the best possible outcomes for them,” she said.

While Alison is clearly passionate about the work of Halas Homes, she is not so keen to be in the spotlight, preferring instead to conduct a guided tour of the Halas Homes premises and let some of the residents, members of staff and volunteers do the talking.

In the kitchen, we met Ken, who has been a Halas Homes resident for 39 years. While drying dishes, Ken spoke about how much he had enjoyed installing bird boxes in Halesowen earlier this year as part of Halesowen in Bloom. In the day centre, volunteer Glynis  Miles was leading an activity called Sing and Sign. The singing part was a boisterous rendition of “I never promised you a rose garden.”  The signing part involved two teams of residents and visitors taking part in a highly animated and competitive version of charades.

Outside, the allotment site was awash with produce ready to be picked and prepared in the on-site kitchen.  Also outside, Mark Stevens, an ‘invaluable’ Halas Homes volunteer for over four years, was busy cleaning one of the small mini-buses. “I started out as a volunteer here at Halas Homes, then I became a part-time employee, but I still do voluntary time as well because I like to help out in any way I can, such as running errands to pick up prescriptions. But most of all I enjoy helping with activities for our customers,” said Mark.

Alison also walked me the Coffee Cups Café in nearby Thornhill Road, where volunteer helper, Suzy Bury, had been preparing vegetable soup, something she was clearly very proud of. The café, which was acquired by Halas Homes in 2012, plays host to nearly 300 customers each week, providing home-made fayre at cost plus a small profit margin.

So, an interview with Alison Sayer that was supposed to last one hour extended to over three hours and I enjoyed every minute of it. Never once did Alison say “I did” it was always, ”we did.”

Tom Keys; Dudley CVS Trustee

Dudley CVS Board Member, Tom Keys, is a busy man. To be more accurate, Tom Keys is a very, very busy man.

Despite approaching his 75th birthday on New Year’s Day next year, Tom’s diary is full of things-to-do; and most of those things-to-do are of a volunteering nature.

Tom’s current list of volunteering memberships runs to thirteen organisations spread across a wide variety of causes, including sports clubs, faith groups, health and wellbeing support groups and Neighbourhood Watch.

Tom Keys was born in Londonderry, Northern Ireland in 1941. As a youth he joined the local Boys Brigade, rising to Battalion Colour Sargent. He also served as a volunteer Special Constable, which proved to be the catalyst for some five decades of volunteering to follow. His claim to fame in Northern Ireland is that he was personally blessed by the Bishop of Derry.

Tom left Northern Ireland in 1960, but his soft Irish brogue has never left him. He came to live in Kingswinford, working at Birmingham Sound Reproducers (BSR), which at the time was the largest manufacturer of record turntables in the world. Tom developed a passion for winemaking and beer brewing and became a local authority on home brewing.

Tom Keys gathers Elderberries for another batch of home-made wine.

Tom Keys gathers Elderberries for another batch of home-made wine.

For four years he was President of the Midland Region of Amateur Winemakers Federation. Tom qualified as a Wine Judge in 1984 and appeared in a Channel 4 wine programme in 2012.

It was following a talk about the secrets of winemaking Tom gave to the Dudley branch of Parkinson’s UK in 1999, that he was invited to become its President; an invitation he accepted gladly, especially as his Mother was suffering from Parkinson’s disease. He is still President of the Dudley branch of Parkinson’s UK today.

From 1999 to the present day, Tom has devoted thousands of volunteer hours to all sorts of local groups and organisations, joining the Dudley CVS Board in 2008. When asked what qualities Tom brings to the Board, he said he likes to think he takes nothing at face value, questioning and probing where necessary, but always to “ensure Dudley CVS continues to go from strength to strength towards achieving its objectives.”

Tom served as a Justice of the Peace on the Dudley Bench for 9 years. Tom remains passionate about home-brewing and makes about 240 bottles of wine from local fruit and vegetables each year. His other passion is crown green bowling, a pastime he took up four years ago after giving up playing golf (Tom, is a former Captain of Wrottesley Golf Club 2006/7). Tom is currently Chairman of Stourbridge Sons of Rest, vice-captain of the Mary Stevens Bowling Club B Team.

A third passion of Tom’s is photography. For the last dozen years or so he has given fundraising photography and video presentations of places he has visited with his wife, Patricia. The next DVD show is 30th October at the Wesley Chapel, in Mount Pleasant at 6.00pm. For more information e-mail: tomkeys@blueyonder.co.uk.

 

Join us during Trustees Week

Leading community organisations

“Trustees are the people in charge of a charity. They play a vital role, volunteering their time and working together to make important decisions about the charity’s work. Trustees’ Week is an annual event to showcase the great work that trustees do and highlight opportunities for people from all walks of life to get involved and make a difference.”

From the Trustees’ Week website

Continue reading