Monday, 14 July 2014

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Success of Wales Charity Law and Governance Conference

The Wales Charity Law and Governance Conference was held in Swansea last month, playing host to a wealth of experienced speakers and focusing on helping voluntary organisations in Wales to stay on track with their governance and legal responsibilities.

The conference, which was run by Trustees' Week parter Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) and supported by Geldards law firm, was attended by those responsible for a wide range of organisations that work within the third sector in Wales. Speakers included governance expert Linda Laurance, leading charity lawyer Giselle Davies, and Debbie Hawkins from the Charity Commission’s Wales office, plus many more. Sessions held throughout the day provided top governance tips and practical advice on a variety of subjects, including employment law, charity accounts, trading to raise funds, and how to ensure a successful relationship between your chair and chief executive.

WCVA strives to support and help Wales’ third sector in a number of different ways, including a specialist service for trustees to help them achieve good governance within their organisations. WCVA offers a range of advice and guidance options for trustees and others working within the third sector, including publications such as WCVA’s governance health check and numerous information sheets on a variety of topics, as well as a free legal information service, a comprehensive programme of trustee seminars and training, and specialist assistance from a dedicated Criminal Records Unit that provides a Disclosure and Barring Service.

If you are responsible for running an organisation that operates in Wales and you would like to find out more about how WCVA can help you, full details can be sourced on WCVA’s website or you can contact the helpdesk on 0800 2888 329. You may also find it useful to access the range of practical resources that are available for free at     

Monday, 2 June 2014

Top 10 tips for an Effective Trustee Board - from NUS and Joanna Davey Consulting

The National Union of Students (NUS), a Trustees' Week partner, has summarised top tips for an effective trustee board from a webinar the organisation previously ran on developing existing boards. Follow @nusuk 

1. Invest time in induction
Each new board member brings a range of skills and experience to the board. They will only be able to contribute these fully if they realise what is expected of them as a trustee, understand the organisation’s strategic objectives and appreciate the organisation’s operating environment, particularly the threats and opportunities. Spending time inducting new trustees is an investment in them and the organisation. It helps them to get up to speed quickly, feel confident and start adding value to the board. Where induction is neglected new trustees can feel confused, unable to contribute to discussions and decision-making leading to loss of confidence and enthusiasm. Some trustees leave boards far sooner than they had planned because they lose their motivation and feel they are not valued by the organisation.

2. Invest in your trustees

Once trustees understand the basics they will be able to contribute to the work of the board. They will be able to be even more effective if their skills and experience are enhanced by training or development. For example, they may need some specialist knowledge about the organisation and its environment, a greater understanding of the financial responsibilities of a trustee and how to better understand financial information, or how to communicate the vision of the organisation to others. Trustees will benefit from appraisal of their performance, highlighting which skills or experiences are particularly valued and how they can be used to benefit the organisation. Personal development planning may be appropriate and both mentoring and coaching are highly successful ways to provide tailored development opportunities.

3. Develop the board as a team

 The board is a team and benefits from having time to review working relationships and decide how best to work together. Knowing your board colleagues helps to develop trust and a good sense of commitment. It also builds the social aspect of being involved which is often an important reason people volunteer to join a board.

4. Nurture Chair and CEO relationship

The Chair and CEO fulfil two key roles for an organisation and their relationship is crucial to an organisation’s success. Together they provide a critical communication link between the board and staff. For many student officers this will be the first time they have had the responsibility of chairing a charity and as such it is especially important to nurture the relationship with an experienced CEO. Some students’ unions opt to appoint experienced external trustees to act as deputy chairs to offer consistency and mentor officers in supporting and challenging the CEO. Together the chair and deputy chair can be a sounding board for the CEO’s ideas, a listener when times are tough and a check when enthusiasm is in danger of overwhelming resources. Likewise the CEO needs to understand the board’s priorities and can discuss with the chair how these are being translated into reality.

5. Spend time planning the future together
Each year the board should review the organisation’s work; identify what has gone well and what could be done better; recognise what progress has been made with strategic objectives and agree priorities for the next year. These discussions can then link into a wider business planning process. Having an annual away day is an excellent opportunity to stand back and refresh the board’s thinking. It works best if it is run in a way that encourages fresh thinking and an open minded approach.

6. Plan the board’s work for the year

The board’s time is valuable and limited. Each meeting needs to be progressing the organisation’s work and priorities. There is a cycle to any board’s work so having a plan for key decisions during the year will enable staff as well as trustees to plan their work effectively. Where such planning is ineffective, extra or emergency meetings may need to be arranged, which are a poor use of staff and trustee resources.

7. Remember to scan the horizon as well as the day to day

If the board becomes focussed on the day to day this may drag down the focus of the CEO. It may mean that no-one is looking further ahead. It is the board’s job to ensure the organisation’s future and trustees have to scan the horizon regularly for opportunities as well as threats. Then the organisation can plan how to exploit those opportunities or avoid / mitigate those threats.

8. Decide on your appetite for risk

Both action and inaction present risks for an organisation. Knowing the costs and benefits of taking certain actions helps to develop an understanding of risk. Trustees should spend time each year considering the organisation’s risks and agreeing the type and severity of risk they are willing to accept in order to achieve the organisation’s objectives. Working with staff they can identify ways to mitigate risks should they be realised.

9. Appraise board performance

The best performing boards invest in their governance and carry out an annual appraisal of their collective performance. This can include self-assessment and independent feedback on performance, as well as feedback from senior staff. Such a process should identify what is working well, what needs to change and produce an action plan for implementation.

10. Focus, focus, focus….on your vision, mission and values

The board of trustees are the guardians of the organisation’s vision, mission and values. If they lose sight of the organisation’s purpose, the reason it exists and the values that underpin its work then the organisation can drift, get involved in unsuitable distractions and even fail. Focussing the work of the staff and the organisation’s resources on the vision, mission and values will keep the organisation on track and heading for success.

At Joanna Davey Consulting we support our clients to enhance their performance and lead their organisations to success. We offer a range of services including board effectiveness reviews, 360 degree appraisals, facilitation, teambuilding, coaching and mentoring. Please get in touch for an initial free consultation. or 07968 267630

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Why running a business and becoming a trustee go hand-in-hand, from Getting on Board

Getting On Board is a Trustees' Week partner and a charity that can help you, your employees and members of your professional networks become new leaders in your communities through board-level volunteering. Here, the organisation looks at how running your own business and becoming a charity trustee go hand-in-hand.
Follow @GettingOnBoard

Starting a small business is an exciting time, but cash can be tight, meaning there is little to spend on training and development. Step forward the perfect solution - volunteering on a charity board! It’s the ideal option for entrepreneurs as becoming a trustee is a fantastic way to gain and hone the skills you will need as a business owner and can give you a real head-start.

Sitting on a charity board gives you access to all sorts of training and development opportunities. As a trustee you will work with the charity’s paid staff and other volunteers and get to know all the functions of a company. From HR and financial matters to planning ahead and fundraising (which requires similar skills to pitching for new business) – almost everything you do as a board member is transferable to your role as a business owner.

Many entrepreneurs miss the daily office banter, not to mention the networking opportunities. So life as a trustee will give you the chance to make lots of new contacts, broaden your horizons and regain that team-working element.

Our US counterparts are already embracing trusteeships, with 61% of entrepreneurs sitting on the board of a non-profit organisation and 50% being a board chairman, either currently or in the past.

“I’ve learnt more from being a charity trustee than any other form of professional development, and the wide-ranging skills I have gained from being a board member have helped my business in so many ways,” says Katie Hodgson, Director of Creative Sensemaking.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Prospectus blog: Diversity leads to more Professional Boards

Prospectus, a specialist recruitment consultancy working exclusively with the beyond profit sector, is a Trustees' Week supporter. Here, Borge Andreassen considers how better gender balance on boards could lead to better governance.

Check out Prospectus' trustee pages here, and follow @prospect_us

Recent figures from the Government show that 19% of company board directors are now women. For FTSE 100 companies the figures are more mixed with the number of companies with a woman on their board has fallen; this is concerning as it means that there are still leading businesses with all-male boards. The figures are also more mixed for company executives; only a disappointing 6.1% are women.
The issue of boardroom diversity has recently had a higher media profile following news that the German government is considering making it a legal requirement that women make up 30% of non-executives on company boards.

In my native country Norway, the Government introduced a mandatory 40% female quota on listed companies’ boards in 2004, and the lessons to date are overwhelmingly positive.

According to research by Agnes Bolsø from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the experience is highly positive and evidence shows that more diversity resulted in better decision-making processes. Not only did boards operate better, respondents to Bolsø’s research said that they had become more professional. No wonder then that in Norway, women now make up 42% of board directors, exceeding the state imposed quota.

At Prospectus we established our Board Practice to improve governance through a greater focus on finding skilled, talented and diverse trustees, giving charities a real alternative to relying on networks and the traditional ‘who-do-we-know’ approach. To date, more than 42% of appointed trustees are women. Not yet as high as the 58% of executives Prospectus has helped clients appoint, but a significant step in the right direction.

Charities are not as different from companies as many assume. Whilst charity governance still needs to improve, to my knowledge no charity has yet had to be bailed out with billions of tax payer money. With that in mind, it is fantastic news that the number of women on company boards are increasing, hopefully leading to better corporate governance. In addition, the Norwegian experience suggests that more women on boards also lead to better gender balance on executive teams.

We still have a long way to go in terms of board room diversity, not just relating to gender but also ethnic, socioeconomic and cultural diversity. Hopefully the Government’s (voluntary) target of 25% women in the corporate boardrooms helps achieve some of that.
And wouldn’t it be great if more of the talented, high-impact executives, both men and women, from the charity sector could be appointed to corporate boards? That’s the aspiration at Prospectus!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Get Involved with Volunteers' Week, 1-7 June 2014!

Volunteers’ Week is an annual event which takes place on 1-7 June. It celebrates the contribution made by millions of volunteers across the UK. It’s run by NCVO in partnership with Volunteer Development Scotland, Volunteer Now (Northern Ireland) and Wales Council for Voluntary Action.

From showcasing the different volunteering roles on offer, taster sessions and team challenges with new partners, to volunteer recruitment events, awards ceremonies and launching new volunteering campaigns, events take place throughout the country.

Everyone is invited to join this national celebration of volunteers and volunteering; it’s up to you to decide exactly how you join in.

This year is the 30th anniversary of Volunteers' Week, and it's time to celebrate! To recognise the 30th anniversary, the number 30 is being used as a theme for the Week,  and there are lots of ways for you to get creative.

Visit the Volunteers' Week website for a resource pack, to sign up for email updates, notify the team of an even you're doing, and much more information!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Get involved with Small Charity Week!

Small Charity Week (16th-21st June) is the biggest event in the small charity calendar providing free initiatives, competitions and support over six days for any charity with an annual turnover under £1.5 million.

Events include:

I Love Small Charities Day: Two social media competitions to win funds for your charity
Big Advice Day: Free advice on any charity topic of your choosing from experts across the sector and business leaders
Policy Day: Local and national events will be held to support engagement between small charities and policy makers and influencers
Volunteering Day: Showcase your small charity volunteering opportunities and register for a number of free events
Fundraising Day: Take part in four free competitions and initiatives to raise vital funds for your small charity
Celebration Day: Get involved and run an event to help raise awareness of and celebrate your amazing work

We are calling on all small charities to get involved and make the most of the activities available. Check the website now as some deadlines are fast approaching

See for more information and follow @SCWeek2014 for breaking news

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Small Charities Coalition relaunches Trustee Finder Service

The Small Charities Coalition, a Trustees' Week partner, has improved and relaunched Trustee Finder, a key free service for charities recruiting new trustees. Improvements made will significantly increase the number of potential trustees viewing the vacancies and, as a result, help fill more trustee positions in charities of all sizes.

Trustee Finder is a free trustee searching and posting service that syndicates with the national volunteering service, run by ivo, which connects over 200,000 volunteers with charities every month*. Linking Trustee Finder to Do-it will significantly increase the number of potential trustees viewing the vacancies, and as a result, help fill more trustee positions in charities of all sizes.

Alex Swallow, CEO of Small Charities Coalition, said: ‘Our free Trustee Finder service is a very valuable resource for our members and we are delighted with the improvements made. A skilled and effective board of trustees makes a huge difference to the impact and success of small charities and we’re proud to help connect charities and trustees who share common passions.’

Trustee Finder (formerly known as trusteefinder) was launched by Charity Trustee Networks (CTN) in 2008 in response to the lack of a comprehensive, national database for users to search and post trustee vacancies. Since then, 1000’s of trustee positions have been filled as a result of the service. However, vacancies posted through the old trusteefinder service were only viewable through that platform. With the improvements made, vacancies posted through the new Trustee Finder are now also posted on the Do-it volunteering service (, giving trustee vacancies exposure to 100,000’s more volunteers every month. The Trustee Finder service is open to all charities regardless of their annual income or size.

Jamie Ward-Smith, CEO of ivo, the charity behind the Do-it volunteering service,** said: ‘We are so pleased to be working with the Small Charities Coalition to ensure that charities have even better access to trustees they need to steer their organisations. We are confident that this joined up tool will further enable charities to find the trustees they require.’

CTN and Small Charities Coalition merged in 2011 and began a review into their brand in 2012. The conclusion of the review was to completely merge the Small Charities Coalition and Charity Trustee Networks into one unified and evolved Small Charities Coalition brand. All information and support previously available to trustees through have been transferred to and will continue as normal.

Trustee Finder was the last service to be switched and was made possible thanks to the generous support of Net Efficiency, the London based web design and development agency. As of Monday 17th February the site was closed for good.

The new Trustee Finder service can be viewed here. As well as its Trustee Finder service, Small Charities Coalition is also involved in other charity governance initiatives through its partnership support of Trustees’ Week, the Code of Good Governance group, its Trustee Networks service, and more.

* Source: Do-it, 2013

** Formerly run by YouthNet, Do-it was transferred to the social action charity ivo who took over ownership and management of the service in 2013 and will be redeveloping it for a relaunch in 2014 in partnership with Believe.InBlue DotProspectus and Vivo

About Small Charities Coalition: Small Charities Coalition is a national support and networking organisation that helps over 6000 small charities, their staff, volunteers and trustees access the skills, knowledge and resources they need to best serve their causes. For more information visit

About Net Efficiency: Net Efficiency design and build creative, accessible and user-friendly websites, using robust, powerful and innovative technology. For more information visit

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

WCVA reveals 2014 Trustee Event programme - Wales

The Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA), a Trustees' Week partner, has revealed its 2014 programme of trustee events. WCVA delivered numerous events for trustees on a variety of topics in 2013, and 2014 looks set to be even better. 

Consisting of a range of need-to-know topics, the programme will include a half day conference on employment law essentials, seminars on pension developments and VAT for charities, an interactive webinar on tendering, and the annual Wales Charity Law and Governance conference. All of the events will be delivered by specialists in each of these areas, and will take place in a variety of locations across Wales throughout the year.

A full list the events that WCVA will be delivering for trustees is below, or click here to go the website.
  • 20 March:  Hugh James employment law update; half day conference at Cardiff City Stadium, 9am -12pm
  • 3 April:  Seminar by Centurion VAT Specialists, ' "I'm a charity and I don't pay VAT" - myth or reality?' 10am -1pm at Plas Pentwyn in Wrexham
  • 21 May:  Wales Charity Law and Governance conference; 9.30am - 4pm at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea
  • 4 June: Seminar by Keegan & Pennykid Insurance Brokers, 'Auto-enrolment: what trustees need to know'; 10am-12.30pm at Tapstri in Swansea
  • 25 June: Seminar by Hugh James Solicitors, 'Responsibilities when employing people';  9.30am - 1pm at WCVA's office in Rhyl
  • 18 September: Seminar by Centurion VAT Specialists, ' "I'm a charity and I don't pay VAT" - myth or reality?' 5pm - 8pm at WCVA's office in Cardiff
  • 25 September:  Webinar by Gareth Coles WCVA, 'Tendering for trustees'; 12:30pm - 1:30pm
  • 11 November:  Seminar by Keegan & Pennykid Insurance Brokers, 'Auto-enrolment: what trustees need to know'; 10am-12.30pm, at Plas Pentwyn in Wrexham
  • 19 November: Seminar by Hugh James Solicitors, 'Responsibilities when employing people';  4.30pm - 8pm at WCVA's office in Cardiff.
Details of how to book places at the events taking part in the early part of 2014 can be found on the Events section of the WCVA website, so what are you waiting for?! Alternatively, if you have any queries about any of the events on this programme you can contact

Trustees' Week 2014 to be launched at NCVO conference

The dates have been set for Trustees' Week 2014 - this year's campaign runs 10-16 November! For the first time, Trustees' Week will be officially launched at the NCVO's Trustee Conference on 10 November - a key event in the sector calendar with hundreds of delegates in attendance. Watch this space for more details, and make sure to follow @trusteesweek!

Monday, 18 November 2013

A Day in the Life of a Home-Start Trustee - by Hazel Thompson

Hazel Thompson is a trustee of Home-Start Wirral

What does being a trustee involve?
Every Trustee role (such as the chair person, vice chair, secretary and treasurer) comes with different duties.  My role is Vice Chair. I feel that at Home-Start Wirral we have a very active trustee board and all the trustees are involved in different sub-groups in the organisation, through which we share our knowledge, skills and experience. I’m involved in a number of the sub groups and also provide support and supervision for the CEO.

How did you become a trustee at Home-Start?
I helped to set up Home-Start when I was a Community Resource Officer and was approached by Charing Cross Methodist Minister, Reverend Pat Billsborrow, to help set up a Home-Start in Birkenhead. She had been involved with Home-Start in the North East and had seen how effective it had been in supporting families in other area of the UK.  I was involved in identifying possible funding and then became an advisor on the panel that appointed the first co-ordinator 13 years ago.

What is your area of expertise?
I’m a “Jill of all Trades”! I have experience in managing organisations, administration, networking, policy writing and a  knowledge of human resources gained from working  in the private, public and voluntary sectors. As a consultant I have also helped organisations to access funding, develop their trustee boards, set up social enterprises  and undertaken a variety of roles supporting organisational development.   

Can you tell us about the board of Trustees?
 The board of trustees consists of the Chair Person, Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and a number of other skilled Trustees. We meet bi-monthly to discuss the strategic direction of the organisation,  progress/status reports from the CEO, look at the finances and discuss any other business.  Immediately prior to these meetings we have Management Committee Meetings attended by the trustees and advisors  from the statutory sector who are able to provide expertise on a range of issues, for example Safeguarding, and also support partnership working between Home-Start Wirral and statutory services providing support to children and families.

What’s the most difficult aspect of being a trustee?
Ensuring we have finances to continue to deliver our services in the community. As statutory funding usually needs to be applied for annually and other funding does not always follow the same time scale, we have to have contingency plans to ensure continuity of service in case our applications are not successful.  The charitable sector is an uncertain one financially and organisations can very quickly find themselves in a position where a funding stream ends and cannot be replaced so services have to close or be drastically reduced.  This can have a huge impact on both service users and the organisation itself.

What motivates you?
I’m motivated knowing that my actions as a trustee help Home-Start to support families to move on, they help people who are struggling and give them a hand when they need it the most. I know how difficult it is, having been a lone parent myself with 3 children.  You do the best for your family no matter what the odds are to give  your children the opportunity to grow up to be well rounded, secure and settled.  I would have loved to have had a Home-Start around then to give me some help and support.

What advice would you give to people who are thinking about becoming a trustee?
Just do it and become a Trustee!
You get the satisfaction of seeing your organisation grow and support others. You see the benefits your organisation gives to the community and how it changes lives.
If you're retired it’s a way of keeping your skills active, meeting new people, and it gives you a purpose and a continuation of work. The reasons are endless!

Friday, 15 November 2013

7 Practical Solutions to Improve Trustee Skills - by Keith Mogford

Seven Practical Solutions to improve Trustee Skills

Keith Mogford, CEO of Skills - Third Sector, talks us through ways to help the development of trustees.

Being a good Trustee has never been more important.  The increasingly complex challenges of rising demand and falling public spending facing the voluntary and charity sector, and the pace of change to be managed, place an even greater premium on good governance than was always the case.  However, the plethora of reviews and commissions of enquiry into governance in the sector have to date have referenced some significant weaknesses in governance.

Most of the reports into governance to date have in my view paid too little attention to the importance of having the right skills at governance level, and so I welcome the call by Sam Younger for more extensive training for Trustees as a crucial element of raising the quality of governance.  Arguably however, effective recruitment is as important as training.  Commitment to the cause should not be sufficient to secure an appointment as a Trustee, and some qualities are difficult to develop through training alone.  Sound judgement, for example, I would regard as the most critical skill a Trustee can possess but is more likely to be a product of experience and self-reflection rather than training.

As Younger says there is not a shortage of good quality resources and support available to support Trustee development, including not only the guidance materials produced by the Charity Commission but also the National Occupational Standards for Trustees we have developed, and maintain, at Skills-Third Sector.  Yet as the Commission’s own survey shows, too few Boards invest in their own development, too few annually assess their effectiveness and the part that their own skills and capabilities might play in that effectiveness.  Board reviews alone are not the solution, indeed without clear purpose they can become self-serving, but investing time in a well considered annual review of a Board’s skills against the requirements of the charity’s strategy can pay dividends

Good governance cannot rely on sound processes, or the serendipity of Trustee recruitment alone.  It is vital to better ensure good governance by investing in securing, retaining and developing skills of Trustees. And it is not rocket science.  At its heart good governance from a skills perspective is about knowing the skills you as a Board need, and keeping these under frequent review; Identifying and making good use of the skills that already exist; Recruiting the skills you need but don’t possess; making Board business an environment which skilled (and often busy) people want to commit time to (retaining skills), and getting Trustee induction right.

It does not take a sometimes expensive governance review to get answers to most of these questions – there are plenty of low costs and accessible sources of support available, for example Training Needs Analysis templates such as that we offer at Skills-Third Sector. However I don’t want to fall into the trap of appearing to be yet another “commentator” criticising Trustee Boards in difficult times while not offering them solutions.  So here are some initial ideas for practical and accessible solutions for consideration:

       Plan and deliver Trustee induction – reference existing guidance on what your Trustees need to know, understand and be able to do
       Conduct annual Board self-assessment and appraisal of performance.  Be honest about the things that need improvement.  Be equally honest about whether they need new and different skills
       Conduct an annual Skills Audit.  Different approaches exist, with guidance. Start with your organisational strategy and challenges.
       Construct a focused Board Development Plan (collective and individual Trustees).  Commit time to this, even if it feels you can’t afford the time.
       Construct a role description for Trustees and use this explicitly in a properly formulated recruitment process.
       Have a budget line for governance development/training
       Be creative about finding low cost or no cost training and development solutions, for example are their opportunities for forming development collaborations with other charities?

There really is not excuse not to.  It’s an opportunity to exercise leadership and it should be regarded as a valuable investment not as a “cost”.  After all there’s a real cost to ill-informed decisions on your organisation and its users.

Keith Mogford
CEO of Skills – Third Sector

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Business Case for Becoming a Trustee - Resources from Cabinet Office

The Cabinet Office have put together some resources for Trustees' Week, which both businesses and employees can download and print off to use. - a leaflet for businesses to use, to raise awareness of trusteeship among employees, and encourage them to seek further information. - a leaflet for employees, detailing how to become a charity trustee, the legal responsibilities and what the role involves.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Trustees' Week MP Pictures

Smita Jalaf adresses the Reception
On Tuesday 5th November, the Charity Commission hosted an MP Reception to celebrate Trustees' Week 2013. Attendees included trustees of all ages and from a wide variety of charities, MPs and sector friends heard speeches from Nick Hurd (Minister for Civil Society), William Shawcross (Charity Commission Chairman) and Smita Jalaf, young trustee of the Drum Arts Centre in Birmingham, the national centre for British Black Arts and Culture.

Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, and young trustees

Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, and young trustees
William Shawcross talks to Soraya and Sahar Zahid of Moroccan Youth UK