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

Guest Blog: New Trustee training in Birmingham, from BVSC

Alison Sheffield from BVSC describes the organisation's involvement in Trustees' Week and the new training workshops available for people interested in becoming trustees.

As part of our Trustees’ Week celebrations at BVSC, we put on a series of training workshops for people who were interested in becoming a trustee but intimidated by the jargon and unsure of the responsibilities.  This decision was made in response to earlier one-off training sessions held at BVSC that highlighted a need and desire for deeper discussion.

So during October, 20 people of all ages from the private and voluntary sector – both new trustees and potential trustees – met on a weekly basis at Brewin Dolphin on Colmore Row to hear from key speakers and explore ideas around charities, governance and being part of an effective Board through case studies and group discussion.

Our high quality speakers included Tracey O’Brien, David Oxtoby and Karl George MBE, and the group were put through their paces exploring difficult themes which led to lively conversations and in-depth questions. 

Feedback provided shows that the Series was successful and met the objectives of delegates, improving their understanding of a trustee’s role in the voluntary sector. Some will use the skills learnt to make their Board more effective while others gained the confidence to approach charities with trustee vacancies.

Our final celebratory session on Wednesday 6th November, to coincide with Trustees’ Week, brought in a number of local community organisations looking to refresh or enhance their Board. A short introduction from each of the charity representatives painted a colourful picture of the fantastic work that Birmingham’s voluntary sector achieves and gave our delegates a good insight into the kind of role they could undertake. 

This fresh approach to trusteeships has proved a real success and we hope to put further sessions on in 2014. Becoming a trustee of a charity is a valuable way for skilled professionals to get involved in their local community but there are barriers that prevent them from applying and that prevent organisations from reaching them. Rumours of incompetent Boards, resistance to change, hefty responsibilities and complicated legal requirements all act as obstacles to bringing in the best people as charity trustees. But this Series went someway to tackle that, as one delegate noted, “the speaker at the first session was delightful and demystified the role of the Trustee in plain English!” 

In these times of new funding sources and changing legal structures we need to make sure our charitable Boards are made up of the very best people and equipped with the very best knowledge and skills. Keep an eye on for information about future training opportunities and current Board vacancies.

For more information please contact Alison Sheffield on 0121 678 8838 or

Friday, 8 November 2013

Guest Blog: Risk Management and understanding your organisation's risk appetite - Zurich

By Hannah Clark, Head of Charities and Social Organisations, Zurich

As greater demands are put on the charity sector, it is more important than ever that trustees are involved in defining the amount and type of risk their organisation is willing to pursue or accept.  

The consideration of risk and how risk is managed is particularly important for charities because those who are ultimately responsible for the organisation, its trustees, are not normally involved in the day-to-day running of its operation.

Since the publication of the Charity Commission’s Statement of Recommended Practice in 2000, trustees of charities have been required to make a statement in their annual Trustees Report confirming that systems or procedures have been established to manage major risks. Most charities therefore have in place a Risk Management strategy and a risk register, developed in line with those risks to which the charity is especially exposed.

One of the Trustees’ key responsibilities is defining the charity’s Risk Appetite – ‘the amount and type of risk the charity is willing to pursue/accept’.  The Board is responsible for determining the nature and extent of the significant risks it is willing to take in achieving its corporate objectives, and must set provisions accordingly.

When defining your organisation’s risk profile it will be important that it aligns with the overall strategy and culture of the charity.  In doing so it will help ensure that the organisation is only taking a level and type of risk that it is comfortable with and that exposure is commensurate to the reward. 

Risk appetite can be expressed in a number of ways - from a Risk Appetite statement (listing tolerable level of maximum loss, zero tolerance for injuries, no tolerance for fraud etc) to setting the boundaries of a risk ‘traffic light’ matrix.  Whatever method is chosen it is essential that the charity’s risk appetite is properly communicated to your executives and employees so they have a framework to make judgements about which risks are acceptable and which are not, thereby avoiding over the top or lax reactions to risk.

To be effective, risk management should not be an isolated process but integral to how the charity operates.  There are a number of straightforward ways to ensure good risk management becomes part of your organisation’s culture:

·         Secure commitment from the top of the organisation
·         Ensure people understand the Risk Management process and their role
·         Keep it simple
·         Align risk to the organisation’s objectives
·         Embed risk management into existing ways of working
·         Ensure the Strategic Risk Register captures the key risks and people fully understand them
·         Ensure your Risk Reporting arrangements are fit for purpose and that Trustees are receiving the right information,  looking at the key risks and are asking the right questions
·         Demonstrate how risk management has supported the charity and has helped maximise any opportunities
·         Think ahead of emerging risks 
·         Review the risk register regularly, maintaining it as a dynamic and living document

Hannah Clark is Head of Charities and Social Organisations at Zurich