WE NEED TRUSTEES
Recruiting Trustees can be daunting...
...particularly for smaller organisations. So, we have put together this page as a simple step-by-step guide to help you through the process.
Having a diverse board with a wide range of skills, experience and perspectives bolsters a charity’s resilience, giving it the best chance of fulfilling its purposes.
Charities need a wide range of skills from their Trustees to understand and address the many challenges they face. They need Board members who bring different experiences, knowledge, and ideas, whilst being able to work constructively and enthusiastically as a team. That is why Board diversity is so important – bringing together the rich mix of qualities that make a healthy and effective leadership team.
And yet research suggests that many charities struggle when trying to recruit and retain Trustees from a diverse range of backgrounds and Lived Experience, leading to many Boards not being fully representative of the communities they serve. If you are specifically seeking to reach out to candidates from black and Asian communities, here is a useful guide.
Recruiting a varied group of people for both paid and volunteer positions within a charity enables you to select the best candidates with a range of skills who can work together for the benefit of service users. Research shows that more diverse Boards (in the broadest sense) – in any sector – are able to make better, more rounded decisions and think more creatively. You may already have a list of potential candidates to approach but, in order to increase the likelihood of reaching a more diverse group of people, it is vital to have an open recruitment process that enables you to find Trustees with the specific skills, knowledge, experience, and other qualities that your charity needs.
A step-by-step guide to recruiting Trustees
Trustee recruitment will vary between organisations. Your own organisation’s governing documents will set out any specific requirements you need to consider in the process and there are also a number of practical guides to support you through the process from The Charity Commission and other organisations, including this guide (Getting on Board – How to recruit Trustees, a Practical Guide):
A good Trustee recruitment campaign doesn’t have to be costly or complicated, but it does need to be well planned; so…
Work out what you need – undertake a Board audit
The audit may include:
- A review of the professional and personal skills and experience of your current Board members
- Consideration of the challenges and opportunities your charity will face over the next five years
- Identification of any gaps between the skills and experience you have now, and what you need to meet your organisation’s challenges. Will this change because of existing Trustees standing down?
- Consideration of what diversity of experience, of economic, social and geographical background, and protected characteristics would enhance your Board. In particular, does your Board reflect your beneficiaries or do you need to recruit someone with Lived Experience of the issues you are seeking to tackle?
Design your advert
Your advert is the window to your charity. It needs to appeal, both visually and in terms of content, to the people you want to attract.
Top Tips -
- Make it clear: Provide relevant information in an easy and accessible way
- Make it engaging: Use a catchy attention grabbing headline and a simple conversational style
- What is your angle? Be clear on the purpose/goal of your charity and how new Trustees can help you achieve that
- Who is your target audience? Write your advert with that audience in mind. Think about what information will be most important to them and what tone of voice will be most effective
- Make it inclusive: remember to advertise in different ways, use audio and visual methods of communication to ensure you are being sensitive to differing needs
- Finally… for further inspiration, see our Go Volunteer Glos article
Create a recruitment pack
A Trustee recruitment pack/summary/video should be created to provide more information, so you don’t have to cram everything into an advert. Information may include:
- The achievements and plans of your charity
- The Trustee role
- Time commitment involved
- What type of skills/experience you are looking for
- What training and support you will offer
Focus your advertising
Where you place your advert is just as important as what it says. The key is to reach the type of people you’re looking for. You may want to consider using:
- Go Volunteer Glos: Advertise your Trustee opportunity with us where it can be seen by 100s of active local volunteers and you can also use our volunteer pool to find your perfect Trustee
- Trustee listing websites: There are specialist websites that provide a useful platform to advertise your Trustee vacancies
- Proactive, direct advertising: Advertising directly to your target audience can bring people on board that wouldn’t have otherwise considered becoming a Trustee
- Social media and interest groups: Reach out to a wider digital network and/or consider using paid-for (but low-cost) advertising
- Other places to advertise: Your own website, local newspapers and newsletters, neighbourhood magazines, relevant membership bodies, and posters in community locations
Converting interest into applications
Here are some tips for converting interest into applications:
- Limit the number of steps in the recruitment process – don’t make it seem daunting or onerous
- Explain the process and give clear timelines
- Be clear about how they need to apply
- Give a named contact to speak with potential applicants
- Make sure whoever is answering queries is well-briefed on the role and the application process
- Actively reach out to people you would like to apply
- Reinforce your messaging by ensuring your advert is available through a variety of channels and in a variety of formats
Shortlisting and interviewing
It is important to be clear from the outset the essential and desirable criteria you are using to assess applications. This will help you treat applicants fairly and prioritise those that most closely match what you’re looking for. Remember to make sure you address any inclusion and accessibility needs; here is a helpful checklist
The induction process can really help new Trustees settle in quickly and start making a difference from the outset. A well-thought-out induction should:
- Set the tone for your future relationship – it reinforces the impression the charity is well-run and shows you are serious about the important contribution Trustees make
- Manage expectations of both Trustees and the charity about the role and commitment
- Help Trustees quickly get up to speed
- Build cohesiveness between new and existing Trustees
Here is a useful checklist for what it could include.
Overall, the main goal is to make sure the induction provides Trustees with the tools they need to thrive in their new role, remembering this will be determined by individual need.
Ongoing support to Trustees
- Having recruited a diverse range of Trustees, it’s important to consider the ongoing support that may be required to enable them to function effectively
- Here’s a checklist of things to consider when supporting Trustees with Lived Experience
- Remember everybody’s needs may be different
Final thought: how to diversify the Board’s way of working
Consider creating a forum by which those with diverse backgrounds or those with Lived Experience can feed information into the Board.