Thursday, 20 October 2016

Surveying the landscape: how do trustees feel?

For all the talk about charity leadership and governance, we actually know very little about what board volunteers think, what their training and backgrounds are, how they experience their roles. Past attempts to reinforce the quality of those guiding our sector have, in effect, been crafted half-blind. No wonder they have not always had the hoped-for impact.
That is why, with nfpSynergy and Third Sector magazine, Charity Futures has run the first comprehensive national trustees survey. We’ve been asking board members how confident they are in their own groups’ skills, what challenges they face, what support they receive and what are the best new ideas for support they’ll actually use.  By using social media, Third Sector’s readership and ACEVO’s member list, we’ve achieved a good snapshot of charities large and small, wealthy and modest, old and new.
Our results – together with choice commentary from yours truly - will be out next Wednesday. The survey promises to push the charity leadership conversation forwards and help us beef up the back office.
And on 22 November, we are holding a seminar with a range of sector experts on governance to help us digest these results and look at next steps. This is all part of our efforts to discuss widely with people and organisations to get their views on what an initiative in governance might look like and how it might work (and indeed who might fund it!) 


2 comments:

Douglas Cracknell said...

What would a National Trustees body do? Amongst much else, ensure that a volunteer trustee is never without protection and support. At present, a trustee who believes that he or she has been treated unfairly, perhaps because of whistle-blowing, could receive protection and support from the Charity Commission, the Attorney-General or his or her fellow trustees - but only if they decide to give it. Unlike employees/workers, volunteers have no statutory rights.

- Doug Cracknell

The Surrey Housewife said...

100% agree with this insightful comment.

One of the role of trustees is to monitor management; some would argue that it is to control management too - taking the lead from corporate governance. Given the possibility for significant asymmetry of information between management and the board, things can become difficult for the trustee who really wishes to fulfil a proper governance role rather than a box ticking one.

Add that onto a well-meaning but often slightly naive board of trustees and you have a difficult situation where a trustee doing a proper job can end up needing such support. If the Charity Commission could offer this, subject to evidence, then it might improve the sector significantly. It would mean that a board could not simply ignore something too difficult or painful to deal with.

There are many trustees who think they are doing a good job, but do not have the expertise to really deliver the sort of governance expected in other sectors. This is a worry given the legacy of the "Big Society" and the role of charities in service delivery within the health and social care arena.

Something does need to be done!