Recruiting new trustees is a challenging task, but it's vital to get it right

It’s Trustees Week and in a super timely fashion TimeBank was able to announce the appointment of three new trustees to strengthen our Board

Recruiting trustees is always a challenging task – as with appointing staff, it’s absolutely key to make sure that you have the right person with the right skills, prepared to do the job and stick with it.

We’ve been very lucky in recent years as we’ve sought to refresh our Board on an on-going basis – we always do a skills audit first to see what we have already and as the charity has evolved, which new skills we need. We then go out and target those skills and it doesn’t have to cost money – social media, circulating information as far and wide as you can through contacts, volunteers, staff,  other trustees, our own website and useful free sites like ivo.org as well as specialist ones like TrusteeWorks, Trusteenet and Trusteehome.

You have to make sure your advert is inspiring and your paperwork informative and engaging. If it’s dull and dry that’s how people think the Board will be and let’s face it we’ve all come across dull and dry Boards in our time! We then interview as many candidates as we can and I’m involved along with the chair and another trustee as personality plays an important  part and it’s vital we can all work well together.  

Induction is next on the list. It’s comprehensive and in several parts – a formal day with financial and legal responsibilities (our auditors and lawyers are fantastic and do a slot for free), business plan, brand guidelines, how our Board works, what our Chair needs from trustees etc - then we always try and build in a sandwich lunch with staff so trustees aren’t seen as ‘removed’ from the organisation.

I meet with each new trustee one-to-one at their convenience so it may be during work hours, over lunch or a drink to talk through the way I see TimeBank, what they want out of the experience as a volunteer and what I need from them as CEO. Put simply, I try to build a strong mutually open relationship.  Finally they are invited to observe their first Board meeting where they are voted onto the Board formally. It sounds onerous but it’s not - and it means everyone knows what to expect and becomes part of our TimeBank family. They know what their responsibilities are and are able to ask questions in different environments so they can be confident that the role is for them.

So as Trustees Week kicks off it set me thinking about why I entered the charity sector in the first place – it was as a volunteer trustee for a tiny charity and my job was to help them get charitable status. It’s a long time ago now and I learnt a huge amount as well as, I hope, giving something back. Perhaps now is the time for me to volunteer to be a trustee again. Having been CEO of a national charity I think I know a lot more about what is needed from a trustee (and what isn’t!) than I did back then. So, any takers?