Friday, 2 October 2015

VAT for charities: advanced complexities and considerations - 4 November Cardiff

VAT for charities: advanced complexities and considerations

When: Wednesday 4 November, : 1.30 - 4.30 pm
Where: Cardiff

Delivered by Liz Maher, Director of Centurion VAT Specialists Ltd

You may have some understanding of the rules and regulations relating to VAT - and how they apply to your organisation - but your VAT considerations could be rather more complex if you are embarking on projects involving elements such as construction, collaboration or the transfer of services.

This interactive seminar will:

provide you with a more strategic understanding of the VAT issues your charity faces, specifically in relation to
  • property development projects
  • collaborations with third parties, and
  • the transfer of leisure and cultural services activities from a local authority to a newly formed charitable body

give an insight into the VAT aspects you need to understand as you explore fundraising options, covering topical issues such as

  • direct mailings,
  • the Cost Sharing Exemption and
  • the interaction of Gift Aid with VAT.

The seminar is for designed to assist those whose roles require an awareness of VAT. It will be suitable for trustees or staff who are either new to the third sector or new to taking on VAT responsibilities, who have a basic understanding of the operation of VAT and wish to develop that knowledge by considering more complex aspects of VAT management.


WCVA member
1 seminar £15, including lunch
2 seminars £25, including lunch
Non- WCVA member
1 seminar £25, including lunch
2 seminars £45, including lunch

There is an additional event on VAT for charities: an introduction in Cardiff on Wednesday 4 November 9am -1pm.

To register your interest in attending either or both seminars, please email or contact 0800 2888 329.

VAT for charities: an introduction - 4 November Cardiff

VAT for charities: an introduction

When: Wednesday 4 November,
Where: Cardiff: 9am - 1pm

Delivered by Liz Maher, Director of Centurion VAT Specialists Ltd
The rules of VAT can be somewhat of a minefield, but Centurion VAT is on hand to help signpost your charity to a clearer VAT future.
Whether your organisation is currently VAT registered or not, this interactive seminar will:

  • provide the building blocks of knowledge you need to manage VAT effectively
  • help you identify opportunities for removing VAT costs on purchases, and taxable business activities which could result in your organisation needing to register for VAT
  • set out the basic VAT aspects that you need to understand as you explore new areas of funding support for income generation
  • highlight VAT issues resulting from a shift from grants to contracts, or from collaboration with third parties.

The seminar is for designed to assist those whose roles require an awareness of VAT. It will be suitable for trustees or staff who are either new to the third sector or new to taking on VAT responsibilities.


WCVA member
1 seminar £15, including lunch
2 seminars £25, including lunch

Non- WCVA member
1 seminar £25, including lunch
2 seminars £45, including lunch

To register your interest in attending either or both seminars, please email or contact 0800 2888 329.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Audit Committee Training - 3 November 2015 London

Audit Committee Training - London, 3 November 2015
What is an effective audit committee? How useful is it? Who should be on your audit committee? This course introduces the main functions of audit committees and discusses their role in charities.

Course content:
  • The role and composition of an audit committee
  • Guidance from the Charity regulators and other sectors
  • Key issues: assurance, risk and reporting
  • The effective audit committee
Don Bawtree - Partner, BDO LLP

Who should attend:
Finance Directors, senior management, committee members, treasurers and trustees, from charities with or without audit committees.
This course is delivered in association with BDO.

Booking is available on the CFG website at

Inspiring Trusteeship - a free charity governance conference for London, Greater London Volunteering - 16 November London

When: Monday, 16 November 2015 from 10:00 to 16:00 (GMT)
Where: City Hall, The Queen's Walk, SE1 2AA, London, United Kingdom

What: Inspiring Trusteeship is our free event for everyone interested in the governance of London’s voluntary and community sector.

Join us and over 200 other delegates for: plenary sessions with Dr Alice Maynard, the Association of Chairs and other speakers looking at new perspectives on governance, and looking at what makes an effective Chair/CEO relationship; workshops on legal issues affecting Trustees, and tips on recruiting Trustees; and a networking lunch to meet with people involved in charity governance from across London, in a marketplace of organisations able to provide you with information and support on charity governance.

Introduction to Trusteeship, Greater London Volunteering - 2 November London

When: Monday, 2 November 2015 from 10:00 to 13:00

Where: City Hall, The Queen's Walk, SE1 2AA, London, United Kingdom

What: A free participatory workshop exploring the main roles and responsibilities of trustees. From meeting your legal obligations to providing great leadership:
  • What are the key challenges?
  • What works?
  • And where can you get support?
Led by Janet Thorne, CEO of Reach, and Luke Strachan, TrusteeWorks Manager at Reach

This workshop is particularly suited to new Trustees, and those considering becoming a Trustee.

To register click here:

Trustee Role in Fundraising, 5th November London

Venue: The FSI, The Grayston Centre, 28 Charles Square, London N1 6HT
Time 5.00pm – 8.00pm (registration between 4.30 – 4.45pm)

Cost The training provided and all delegate materials are free of charge to FSI Small Charity Members and Associate Members.  However we require a £50 deposit to secure the booking, £40 is refunded after attendance and £10 is retained as a booking fee. If you’re not an FSI member then you can register for free here:

Trustee Role in Strategy Development, 3rd November London

Venue: The FSI, The Grayston Centre, 28 Charles Square, London N1 6HT
Time 5.00pm – 8.00pm (registration between 4.30 – 4.45pm)

Cost The training provided and all delegate materials are free of charge to FSI Small Charity Members and Associate Members.  However we require a £50 deposit to secure the booking, £40 is refunded after attendance and £10 is retained as a booking fee. If you’re not an FSI member then you can register for free here:

Trustee Role in Risk Management, 2nd November - London

Venue: The FSI, The Grayston Centre, 28 Charles Square, London N1 6HT
Time 5.00pm – 8.00pm (registration between 4.30 – 4.45pm)

Cost The training provided and all delegate materials are free of charge to FSI Small Charity Members and Associate Members.  However we require a £50 deposit to secure the booking, £40 is refunded after attendance and £10 is retained as a booking fee. If you’re not an FSI member then you can register for free here:

These workshops are for Charity CEOs and Chairs or representative Trustees. To benefit fully from the workshop we recommend that both the CEO and Trustee attend.
Our workshops are delivered by experienced and knowledgeable trainers. Each workshop has a market value of £195 per delegate place, course places are donated to small charities by the sponsors, donors, funders and Trustees of the FSI.

Governance Surgeries from Brighton and Hove Community Works – Wed 4 November 2015

When: Wednesday 4 November 2015, 6-8pm

Where: BMECP Centre, 10 Fleet St, Brighton, BN1 4ZE

What: An event for Trustees and Management Committee Members. We are bringing together all of the expertise, information and advice you could need if you are a trustee or are considering becoming one, to answer those questions you might be afraid to ask or don’t know who to ask. Our experts will be able to give you information and honest advice on a range of areas, including:

·         Employment Law and HR
·         Charity Finance
·         Charity Law
·         Auto-enrolment and planning for your pension scheme
·         Roles and responsibilities of the board, the Code of Governance and effective relationships
·         Developing your Management Committee
·         Best practice in Volunteer Management, Safeguarding and Equalities
There are likely to be more areas as we confirm experts over the coming weeks.

Cost: FREE to attend, but is only open to trustees or management committee members from organisations operating in Brighton and Hove

For more info:
01273 234023


Burton Sweet Charity Trustees’ Week Presentation and Reception - 5th November Bristol

Burton Sweet Charity Trustees’ Week Presentation and Reception

A Trustees’ Week celebration of the contribution volunteer charity trustees make to our communities.

Join us for this free event for an update presentation on issues for charity trustees and networking with other charity people

When: 5 November 2015 from 5.30pm
Where: Woodlands Christian Centre Bristol BS8 2AA

Contact 0117 9142057

Cruising or all at sea? Burton Sweet Autumn Charity Seminar - 30 September Bristol

Cruising or all at sea? Burton Sweet Autumn Charity Seminar

A morning of charity learning and networking on:

Fundraising; Working Internationally; Regulation, Reporting and Law (including the new Charity Commission core guidance for trustees CC3)

When: 30 September 2015 9am – 2pm
Where: M Shed events suite, Bristol BS1 4RN

Event fee £45 plus VAT (includes lunch)

Contact 0117 9142057

Thursday, 26 March 2015

How to Attract the Best Trustees - by Ian Joseph, CEO of Trustees Unlimited

With one in five charities reporting trustee vacancies on their boards, Ian Joseph, CEO of TrusteesUnlimited, offers advice for charities on how to recruit talented trustees.

Clear vision of the ideal candidate
Conduct an audit of the competencies, knowledge and experience needed for the role and recruit to that brief. Make sure you have a clear vision of what your ideal new trustee will be like and what you expect from them. Think about why someone would be interested in
volunteering their services with you. You may be passionate about your organisation, but can you create a compelling proposition about the role?

Clarity about the decision making process
Be clear about who is making the recruitment decisions. Have a clear process for informal meetings with the management team. Interviews should be evidence-based to test the candidates' motivation as well as their skills and experience. Make sure you always take verbal references at the interview stage.

Robust recruitment practices
Plan the recruitment process properly, scheduling in all activities and making sure those involved in the process are fully briefed. It is crucial to make sure all the trustees are happy with the process even if they are not directly involved in the selection. Recruiting a new trustee can take several weeks so make sure you allow time to do it professionally.

Clear role description
Create a clear role description, outlining the roles and responsibilities of being a trustee. Be clear about the expected time commitment and the location and times of meetings. Remember that many people won't understand what trusteeship involves and this can be one of the biggest hurdles. Creating a detailed role description for potential candidates can help overcome this.

Detailed information pack
Prepare an information pack for candidates. This should include links to the memorandum and articles of association, the financial accounts, biographies of your trustees and the governance structure, including sub committees and other useful information such as strategic plans.

Use your current networks
Tap into your current networks and engage the whole board in the process. Make sure everyone knows there is a vacancy available. However, a word of caution: your existing networks can often result in recruiting in the board's own image to so if possible, extend the search beyond this.

Advertise the role
Write a punchy advertisement for your website and distribute it via social media. If you produce a newsletter make sure you include the advert. Think about where the people you want to attract would be likely to see your advert – whether it's a local venue, specialist press, a volunteering website or elsewhere.

Widening the search
Be creative and think about other places you could advertise. There are resources available for publicising trustee roles free of charge such as NCVO's Trustee Bank. Contact the HR department of local businesses and see if you could post something on their intranet or in a staff newsletter.

Use a specialist recruitment firm
Consider using a professional recruitment firm with a track record of recruiting trustees. They will have a database of executives seeking trustee roles and be able to match candidates to your exact requirements. Some like Trustees Unlimited offer a cost-effective service based on the size of the organisation.

Before the new trustee joins
Once you have found your ideal candidate ensure they receive a good induction to help them settle in quickly. This includes clarity about your vision, your business plans, objectives and minutes of the last few meetings.

Ian Joseph is the chief executive of Trustees Unlimited.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Wales Volunteer of the Year Awards 2015

Over a million people in Wales help their communities and each other in all sorts of remarkable ways. And since 2004 the Wales Volunteer of the Year Awards has been shining the spotlight on these incredible people.

Wales Volunteer of the Year Awards 2015
Do you know of an inspirational individual or group that has made a real difference to their area or to the lives of others? If so, why not nominate them for a Wales Volunteer of the Year Award? It's your chance to get these remarkable people the recognition they deserve.
There are six categories for nominations:
  • adult (25 years and over)
  • young volunteer (under 25 years)
  • 'green' volunteer (individual of any age who volunteers with an environmental organisation or project)
  • trustee
  • groups (two or more individuals, whether as an informal group or a formally constituted organisation)
  • international (for individuals who have volunteered with international partners/organisations in Wales)

What you need to do
  • Read the rules of the scheme (below) and get the permission of the individual or group you want to nominate
  • Complete a nomination form (NB the judges will base their decision on your answers. Only information supplied on the nomination form will be considered)
  • Return it by 10 April 2015 to:

    Wales Volunteer of the Year Awards
    Baltic House
    Mount Stuart Square
    CF10 5FH

For more information and to make your nomination, download the brochure and nomination form here.

Rules of the scheme
  1. Nominations must be received by 10 April 2015 at WCVA, Baltic House, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff Bay CF10 5FH, or, using an official nomination form (or a photocopy or downloaded version).
  2. Individuals cannot be nominated by a partner or family member, or nominate themselves. Please note: Groups cannot be nominated by an employee, volunteer or trustee of the organisation.
  3. You may only nominate one nominee or group from each category.
  4. The nominees must live in Wales, or undertake their volunteering work in Wales. The groups nominated must be based in Wales.
  5. Permission must be sought from the person or group nominated.
  6. Personal details provided on the nomination form may be passed on to partner organisations and to the media for publicity purposes. If you are not willing for any information to be shared in this way or if you do not wish media organisations to contact the nominee or nominator, please let us know as soon as possible.
  7. Previous winners of major Wales/UK awards are not eligible for nomination including the Wales Volunteer of the Year Award.
  8. The judges' decision on entries is final. Up to three winners will be selected for each award category. The judges reserve the right not to make an award in any particular category if they feel that nominations are not suitable.
  9. The nature of the certificates and awards presented is the decision of WCVA. No alternative prizes will be considered.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

What charity trustee boards can do to #MakeItHappen

This article is written by the Charity Commission Outreach team, in celebration of International Women's Day. 

Trustees’ Week is into its sixth year, each having built on the success of the last by showcasing the great work of trustees and highlighting the opportunities for people from all walks of life to get involved and make a difference.

The call for charities to consider the benefits of increasing the diversity of their trustee board has been a consistent message of the campaign. A diverse trustee board is more likely to contain a range of skills and experience than a board which is more narrowly based. Where trustees are recruited from a wide range of backgrounds, we believe that the governance arrangements of the charity will benefit.

Unsurprisingly, in comparison to the private sector we have a good story to tell about the diversity on boards. However various pieces of research over the last five years have shown that there is still room for improvement; room to increase the number of trustees that have a disability, that come from an ethnic background, that are women, and the number of younger people.

Out of all these, the headline figure for the balance of men and women on boards is the most encouragingrecent research put that figure at 48% of trustees are female, and 52% are male.

International Women’s Day is a time to recognise the position the sector is in and to showcase the great work of female trustees.

But it is also an opportunity to encourage more women to step forward and more trustee boards to reflect on how diverse they are. Despite the encouraging headline figure, when we look more closely it becomes apparent that although some sub-sectors do have balanced boards others still have room for improvement.

According to an NCVO almanac, health charities and village halls had the most equal split of male and female trustees. However, out of eighteen sub-sectors only four had more female trustees than male trustees. Take a moment to think about who sits on your board. Could it be more balanced?

If the answer is yes then there may be some simple changes you can make to the way you recruit your trustees.

A study by the Institute of Philanthropy found that around half of trustees are appointed through personal recommendations which can lead to recruitment from a narrow pool. There are a number of services that can assist charities in their search for trustees; broadening the pool and finding those that will have the right skills and will make the best fit for the charity.

Achieving greater diversity at board level may include having some trustees from parts of the community which have traditionally not played a large part in the charity. This is not about imposing modern values on traditional charities, but about trustees putting the interests of the charity first by establishing effective governance.

If your answer was yes - your board should be better balanced, then some of the supporters of Trustees' Week may be able to help: Getting on Board and Reach Volunteering both offer services to help match a charity with a new trustee.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #MakeItHappen; encouraging effective action for advancing and recognising women. Take time to reflect on the make-up of your trustee board and whether it could be better.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Angus Hannah, Trustee & Vice-Chair of the Voluntary Action Fund shares his Trusteeship success with us

Like all good stories, this one starts with a chance encounter. While in a tutorial in Napier University Dr Miles Weaver was filling in for the regular tutor who was off for some reason.

He mentioned his work on equalities in leadership, and the need for young people to take the initiative and start representing our peers, rather than accepting another generation representing us and mentioned Young Trustees in Scotland.

I listened to him politely and decided, half-heartedly, to see what was what. I went along to an information day, and listened to the ideas and although was interested in the idea, had other things on my mind – studying, partying, and applying for internships for my Year in Industry.

Fast-Forward 6 months and I was still struggling to find an internship – the whole class had gone through the soul-crushing, ego-deflating routine which is repeated rejections from companies – Thanks, but no thanks; I was recovering from a horrific 6-week bout of glandular fever in which I lost 2 stone; my girlfriend had decided enough was enough; and I still didn’t have a bloody internship!

Then another 6 months and it was October: I was happily working for EDF-Energy at Torness Power Station and was looking for ways to improve myself, while giving something back to society. Happily, I received an email from the university inviting students to apply to the Get-On-Board program, a 3-module evening class to give students a professional Corporate Governance accreditation, with a view to put more young people in positions of responsibility and governance within the voluntary sector.

I’ve always been one for widening my horizons, and taking the opportunities afforded to me – especially if I feel they will put me out of my comfort zone, and felt that learning about corporate governance during a time in which the public perceptions of corporations are of low moral standards would be particularly topical.

So without being particularly hopeful I applied to this Get-On-Board program, and somehow was accepted. This was an eye-opening opportunity, with Professor Karl Georges taking the classes in fun, exciting, and engaging ways while being seated in what One thought of as board-room style – all very exciting!

One of the benefits of being on the Get-On-Board program are the updates of trustee places available in the local area. One of these which piqued my interest was the Voluntary Action Fund, or VAF, which is a national charity which distributes grants on behalf of the Scottish Government in the areas of Equalities, Violence Against Women, Volunteering, and Anti-Sectarianism. But it is more than just money, it is a charity which advises their funding charities and helps them in more qualifiable ways.

The main attraction was that this charity aligns with my moral compass – the need for equality, my ability to battle for those who I feel are being unfairly treated, support for vulnerable people, and the need for public money to be used properly.

So off I went for the interview, which was with the chairman, CEO, and a trustee of the charity, and we mainly talked about the work which VAF does, while eyeing each other up to see if the charity would fit in with me, and vice versa.

Apparently it went well, as I was invited for another interview. This interview was more focussed on me, what my ambitions were, where I saw the charity going, what I felt about the charity, and whether I felt it was doing a good job.

Yet again, seemingly it all went well, because I was invited onto the board as a trustee. This was a great honour and privilege to be in a position to make decisions on the strategical direction of a national charity, decisions which, hopefully, will have a positive impact on Scottish society, and which will support charities which are doing essential work throughout the country.

As is my way, I felt that the only way to go about this was to jump head first and get as involved as possible, so was accepted as a member of the Property and Finance Committee, as well as the Business Development Committee. This gave me the opportunity to learn more about good, responsible governance as well as the work which the charity does.

After attending several board and committee meetings the post for vice chairman became available and was brought up during a board meeting. The question was – who should the next vice chairman be?

The thoughts going through my head were mainly along the lines of – What an opportunity to be in a leading position within a national charity which is a power of good in society, against the doubts which must creep into most peoples’ minds – Am I too Young? Do I have the Experience? Do I have the necessary knowledge? And the final one – Am I good enough?

Then a sudden, sharp thought came through – a trustee must show leadership, and first and foremost follow his fiduciary duty towards the charity, and that this was an opportunity not to be missed – so I gingerly put forward “I know that I am a young trustee, and that there are several member of the board with more experience than myself, but I would like to put my name forward as the Vice-Chairman”… and somehow I was voted through unanimously.

It’s been a tremendous privilege to get this opportunity and I owe a debt of gratitude towards all those who have shown interest in my position and encouraged me to back myself – from Miles Weaver and Karl Georges at the Get-on-Board Program, Napier University, and EDF-Energy for allowing me to take the time to go to my board meetings.

I am getting a huge amount of satisfaction from being a vice chairman, knowing I am representing a charity which is doing a huge amount of good work through out Scotland, and pushing the need for community capital in all modern societies.

Many young people feel they aren’t getting heard, that they can’t make a difference, and that their future is already decided. This story shows that is not the case, and with a little ambition, drive, and a lot of enthusiasm anything can happen.

So to any young people reading this – become a trustee of a charity you believe in, build your employability skills and your knowledge of corporate governance, but most of all help our charities be more representative of those they help, and make sure our voices can be heard.

For further information, please visit:

Friday, 14 November 2014

Trustees and Fundraising: Could you be doing more to boost your charity's bottom line?

The article below has been written for Trustees' Week by Alistair McLean, Chief Executive of the Fundraising Standards Board – the self-regulatory body for charity fundraising in the UK.

Trustees Week is a chance to celebrate the critical role of charity trustees; their energy, drive and commitment to the organisations they work with and their beneficiaries.

It is also an opportunity for trustees to take inspiration from other trustees and consider whether there is anything more that they can bring to the table, particularly when it comes to fundraising.

After all, trustees have a big weight on their shoulders. Responsibility for the sustainability of the charity as a whole lies with them and that means understanding what funding is coming into the organisation just as well as how the charity is managing its expenditure.

Sourcing funding is often one of the hardest and most important tasks for charities to master and as such we encourage all trustees to take an interest in how this is being done.

For every charity, this means something different.  In some organisations, trustees might have a distant involvement in the fundraising process. In others, trustees make the lion’s share of fundraising decisions and are regularly involved in reaching out through their networks for funds.

Trustees might not need to know how to fundraise themselves, but they certainly need to know that it is being done, that it is well managed and, ultimately, that it will enable the organisation to achieve its objectives.

Whether trustees are involved in raising funds themselves or advising at a strategic level, they all need to know that it is being done responsibly, honestly and effectively, and that the charity is adhering to regulations.

In the UK, best practice for charity fundraising is set out in the Institute of Fundraising’s Code of Fundraising Practice and regulated by us at the Fundraising Standards Board. Rather than a statutory scheme, it is a self-regulatory approach, requiring charities to opt in and commit to meeting those standards.

To date, well over half of all voluntary income in this country is generated through FRSB member charities and the number is growing all the time, reflecting the sectors’ growing sense of accountability and greater rigour in the way that charities ask for funds.

So why not take the opportunity this week, during Trustees Week to review your organisation’s approach to fundraising and to consider what more you could do to encourage your charity’s supporters to give with confidence.

For more information, see

Navigating the Challenges of Public Sector Partnerships - by Amy Brettell, Head of Charities & Social Organisations, Zurich Municipal

This is an exciting and challenging time for trustees.  Deeper partnerships with the public sector and increasing demand for services means that charities – more than ever since the creation of the welfare state – play an essential role in the provision of public services. 

Charities are increasingly engaged in public service delivery and the government is seeking to open more avenues for charities – both large and small – to enter into public service contracts.  

While this means your charity has an unprecedented opportunity to positively impact the communities they operate in, you also have to navigate the new risks arising from taking on responsibility for public service delivery.

·         Funding – Organisations must ensure they balance delivery of short-term public service contracts against their long-term financial stability.  Strong financial planning is important to ensure that your charity can survive even if major contracts are not renewed, and continue to provide services to other groups.
·         Liability – Working in partnership can give rise to economies of scale and efficiencies.  However, these complex relationships can often blur lines of accountability when it comes to risk and responsibility.   To help protect your charity and volunteers from litigation, there should be a clear understanding of where liability lies at the start of any partnership. 

·         Charitable purposes – Working in partnership will mean your charity has to respond to many, sometimes conflicting, demands.  Meeting contractual responsibilities is essential, but you must also ensure you are delivering the charitable purposes for which your organisation was set up.

By ensuring that your charity’s core purposes are embedded in all its activities, and that good governance and strong risk management procedures are baked into how your charity is run, trustees play a critical role in helping your organisation successfully navigate public sector partnerships and deliver public services.
If you would like further information on the strategic and operational risks associated with public service delivery, please visit the Zurich webpage or contact your local Risk and Insurance Consultant on

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Thanks to a Roundabout Trustee

I am responding to your call out for inspiring stories of trusteeship. I work for Roundabout (registered charity 297491) the UK’s largest arts therapy charity, which has been supporting vulnerable children and adults throughout Greater London for the last 29 years. 

Here at Roundabout we are fortunate enough to have had a wonderful group of trustees supporting the charity's work right from its earliest beginnings. Our current dedicated trustees Alison Kelly, Paul Girbow, Mark Stanley, Roger Winn, Bronwen Lord and Yvonne Winter have collectively supported Roundabout for over 64 years. They are all equally passionate about Roundabout and we appreciate everything they all do but I would like to tell you about how Mark Stanley supports Roundabout.

A year and a half ago Roundabout launched its new website, as a generous gift by Ben Keen, a friend of the charity.  Since its launch Mark has had a pivotal role in updating and developing the website further. He provides the team with feedback, from Google analytics and ensures that team news, annual reports etc are updated speedily onto the website.

Mark has supported me in launching our Twitter feed (@roundaboutdrama) a year ago, including researching how to do this then sharing this with me and the Project Directors Lynn Cedar and Deborah Haythorne. When I am unable to tweet, Mark takes on this role including a fortnight of daily tweets this summer when I was on annual leave.

Mark has also researched and advised Roundabout on best value IT equipment.

As Roundabout only has funding to employ one WTE administrator and my post is only I day a week (with responsibility for Roundabout’s website/twitter/PR etc) Mark’s commitment and dedication has been a lifeline. I speak to Mark regularly and at great length as we troubleshoot the challenges of raising awareness of dramatherapy and fundraising amongst other things.

All of this of course, as with all trustees, is work carried out by Mark in his ‘free time’ for no payment. What makes Marks trusteeship even more inspiring is that Mark suffers long term chronic back pain which makes it impossible for him to stay in one position for more than a few minutes without the pain increasing. In recent years Mark has been unable to attend trustees meetings in person as the journey would cause him too much pain, instead he joins the meetings via Skype. At times Mark will need to divide a piece of work into several short bursts of work over a number of days but never lets this stop him from supporting Roundabout’s work.

We are very grateful to Mark and all our trustees past and present for being part of the Roundabout family.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Britain’s charities facing skills gaps on their trustee boards, by Ian Joseph, CEO, Trustees Unlimited

With governance becoming an increasingly important issue for UK charities, the contribution that trustees make and the skills needed to be an effective trustee is more important than ever.

To mark Trustees Week, we wanted to discover how board performance is being measured and what trustees are doing to enhance their organisation’s performance.

We surveyed our database of 2,000 trustees and had some interesting findings to share.
Strikingly, 47% of trustees said they recognise skills gaps on their boards and 46% say their charity doesn’t appraise the performance of board members. The skills gaps highlighted were legal, HR and fundraising as well as social media and marketing and communications.

Less than half (44%) said their charity undertakes board member appraisals every year, 10% have appraisals every two years and 46% are never appraised. Over a third said their Chair isn’t appraised either. Whilst over half of trustee said their terms of office were three to five years, almost a third of admitted there were no fixed terms of office for trustees.
Despite recognising skills gaps charities are recruiting new trustees by word of mouth (16%) and mainly through their own networks (42%). Around a third use recruitment agencies or job boards and only 8% advertise vacancies.

On the one hand it is commendable that almost 50% of organisations recognise where they have skills gaps, however, it’s extraordinary that almost half of trustees are unaware of the skills they are lacking. It is also worrying to see that the approach to appraising board performance is so variable when governance is more important than ever.
A lack of diverse skills on a board is a huge risk. By relying on word of mouth or using their own networks to recruit trustees, charities are really limiting their talent pool. Having no fixed terms for trustees also prevents talent coming through.

There is a wealth of talented people out there who would be interested in becoming a trustee. However, charities must be more innovative to reach them - using social media channels and other recruitment methods to attract them. If they don’t, they will get left behind and the skills gaps will widen.
According to trustees, the top skills needed around the boardroom table are leadership, finance and chairing skills. The most desirable characteristic of a good trustee is contributing to the organisation’s performance (32%), next important is strategic thinking and thirdly being passionate about the cause.

Half of trustee said they saw that their colleagues possessed these qualities, 40% said they saw these qualities most of the time and one in ten said they did not see these characteristics in their co-trustees.
They also noted some unusual styles of behaviour. Whilst over 70% recognised the ‘Helpful Person’ who always offers their time and input, nearly 46% recognised the ‘Obsessive’ who pays too much attention to the small details and 36% the ‘Parsley on the Fish’ a board member that looks good, but doesn’t do much.

There are also many ‘Colonels’ sat on Britain’s boards, trustees who are excellent at giving direction and opinions, but not so good at action, and almost a quarter of respondents said they recognised the ‘Gong Hunter’, someone who is only looking for glory.
To be a good trustee takes many skills but also a firm commitment to the role and the charity cause. It is the responsibility of the Chair to bring out the best in trustees – using their skills in the right way, ensuring that meetings are run effectively and that everyone makes a valuable contribution at each meeting.

There is no room for Colonels and Gong Hunters on charity boards, especially given charities are under ever increasing scrutiny from the public and from their regulators. Having trustees not up to the job is simply unacceptable.


How to Write a Trustee Cover Letter

To celebrate Trustees' Week, Bilwa Iyer in the TrusteeWorks team at Reach talks us through how to write a cover letter for a trustee position.

Have you recently applied to a trustee position but struggled to write a cover letter? Do you often feel that you don’t know where to start or have even questioned the importance of one? You are not alone! As a trustee recruiter, I receive emails and calls from applicants asking me these questions from aspiring and seasoned trustees alike.

Is a cover letter important? My response to this is a very strong yes! Charities have different causes and organisations want to ensure their cause is championed by the most effective and passionate people. Hence a cover letter is the first step in displaying that you are this person!  Clients advertising trustee positions are looking to receive cover letters along with CVs, which tend to give a sketch of your work history, whereas a cover letter helps you showcase your personality and contribution as a trustee.
What you need to remember when writing a trustee cover letter
To begin with, it may be useful to know that trustee cover letters are slightly different from professional ones in their format and tone. Trustee cover letters are simple, have flexible formats and are content focused. They tend to be less business-like and more personable. The other important thing to remember is that leaving out a cover letter in a trustee application process is not an option!
Writing such cover letters may seem daunting at first however with little exploration this can be easily accomplished. These letters basically ask for three key elements:
  1. Your reasons for being drawn to a cause
  2. How you can contribute to the cause as a trustee
  3. Your fit and alignment with the organisation
Here’s how to draft a cover letter that will have an impact.
(a) Show your commitment and passion.
Once you have selected a charity with a trustee position you want to apply for, you must show your reasons for wanting to get involved, demonstrating your passion for the cause and your commitment to get involved - and perhaps more importantly, stay involved! Therefore begin your application by getting to the heart of your charity and knowing what sort of organisation it is and how it runs. A charity’s website is a good place to start any research. Sometimes trustee job descriptions won’t tell you enough to get started, so I’d encourage you to seek help from your contacts or brokering agencies such as Reach to help you gain access to clients, annual reports or answer any initial questions you may have.
Example 1: This example highlights how personal experiences can be aligned to charitable objectives and professional expertise. It highlights how one’s life experience can turn into a passion for a cause and an organisation and also demonstrates why the individual wants to get involved:
I have pleasure in attaching my CV to apply as a Trustee for Campaigning and Advocacy for XX charity.
I have followed your organisation and admired your work for several years now. I was motivated to apply for this trustee role having been diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy where I was severely hospitalised. Following this experience I realised how much more awareness was needed amongst the general public and what to watch out for. I would therefore love to apply my skills, expertise and passion towards your organisation and helping to steer it towards even greater success.
I served for six years as a trustee for a national charity which I found extremely rewarding notably in extending their membership base. I am committed to ensuring that I give the best I can to any organisation I get involved with. I believe I am well-suited to the role as I have significant experience of national campaigning to a target audience, including the execution of multi-channel marketing campaigns.
A charity wants to know that any trustee who joins them will be a valuable asset, and who will be able to give their time, commitment and passion. So if you can show this, you will be in a strong position.
(b) Showcase your experience and skills
Clients are looking for candidates who can demonstrate their contribution as trustees. You need to highlight your professional skills and expertise and show what you will bring to the board. A trustee board should ideally have a mix of different skills, mindsets and experience to show diversity and ensure balance.  So you need to show in your cover letter what skills you have.  When attempting to write down your contribution as a trustee, tailor your letter around the job and person specification.

Example 2 – This is an example of a thorough cover letter which provides a holistic and clear overview of all their skills:
I believe myself to be competent in this area and can offer the very specific skills and experience you are looking for:
·         Audit, Finance & Risk Management – I am a member of the Governance & Audit Committees at XX and I have contributed to the Board’s consideration of Governance arrangements by …
·         High Level Financial Competence – I am a qualified accountant with a broad base of finance skills but also have the experience to take a lead role in XX.
I can demonstrate a commitment to the role and can give the can meet the time commitment to read all papers, prepare for, attend and contribute to meetings in line with the work of the finance and audit committee. I can also undertake to attend training and development and engage pro-actively in the induction process.
·         I can analyse complex information and reach sensible conclusions by demonstrating the ability to communicate effectively with a diverse range of people in a constructive manner.
·         I can work with others effectively and believe teamwork enhances overall performance and can lead to better decisions and services.
In terms of personal qualities:

·         I am able to demonstrate a sharing to the values including that of probity in public life and can also demonstrate a commitment to your charity’s cultural elements ...
·         I have a ‘duty of care’ ethos which is at the heart of everything I do and I believe investing in a diverse workforce enables better performance and a more inclusive customer service.
This is an example of a clear cover letter which shows instantly how it aligns to the needs of the organisation. As with job applications, trustee positions can get a number of applicants so make sure you stand out!

(c) Explain why you would be a good fit in the organisation

Clients are looking for people who can fit into their culture. Make use of relevant and transferable abilities and personal experiences. This is where any personal research you have done and any preliminary client conversations you have had will make you stand out.  Trustee vacancies are aligned to charity objectives and you may find as you write about your professional experience that it doesn’t quite fit the job description…don’t worry though! Make your cover letter unique by highlighting your transferable skills from your workplace along with your personal experiences, to show what you would bring to the role.
Example 3 – Here’s an example of a cover letter that showcases skills acquired in the commercial sector tailored to the third sector:
I am currently looking for an opportunity to use my expertise to support a not-for-profit organisation, as for the first time in my business life I am able to commit the time necessary to offer my skills as a trustee in an environment where I can bring real value to a board.
I was drawn to XX opportunity, as a stated role requirement was the ‘evaluation of complex information, assisting to build consensus and robust governance within the board group’ – which dovetails well with my skills gained over many years in the analysis of complex (often financial) information required in the acquisition, restructuring and improving of operations I have undertaken in many differing arenas.
I have been a Director for many years and have experience in both SME and large international PLC operations. I feel that one of my key strengths which I could bring to the trustee board is in negotiation, having spent my entire working life in a commercial environment, negotiating with contractors and suppliers. I am particularly looking for a role where I can bring relevant experience to the table to strengthen the skills base of the existing board.
A charity needs to have people who fit into their organisation whilst at the same time challenging them to reach their full potential. So try to describe how you will fit in as well as how you can contribute as a trustee.
I believe that even the most distinguished CVs need cover letters for trustee vacancies. The above examples of cover letters are in no way exhaustive however, they show effective ways to highlight your relevant skills, passion and experience that any charity would need. Remember the three key elements and steps for trustee applications to guide you and you should craft a cover letter that 'wows'.
I am happy to review any cover letters you are looking to send, so please contact me at Reach. As a trustee recruiter with Reach Volunteering I’m committed to help you find a role that fits you.