Looking for heroes

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OSCR's Jude Turbyne gives pointers on factors to consider when recruiting charity trustees

4th February 2019 by Robert Armour 2 Comments

“With great power comes great responsibility”, said Voltaire.

This is definitely true for a charity trustee. Working together, charity trustees must be good stewards of their charity. Ultimately they are responsible for the effective working of their charity, and they have significant legal responsibilities that go along with that. They are quiet superheroes in our society, working voluntarily to make Scotland and the wider world, a better place.

Getting the right people to take on the role can be a challenge.  So what do you need to think about when recruiting a trustee?

Firstly, the current trustees need to look at the charity’s governing document. It is important to know the rules in the document for appointing new trustees and any restrictions on who can be a trustee.

Once you know the rules, you should assess the skills of the current board. Think about where the gaps are and work out what you need from a new trustee. For instance, now that we are living in a digital age, not having a level of digital skills on your board could ultimately affect the impact that your charity might have.

So, now you know the rules and know the requirements… what’s next? It is usually a good idea to create a clear advert that says what the charity does and what you are looking for from someone. Think about where the people you want to attract would be likely to see your advert – for example, social media, online adverts or newspapers.

Jude Turbyne

Jude Turbyne

It is a good idea to go beyond your current network. You don’t want to get to a situation where everyone around the board table tends to think the same way. Don’t be scared to look for younger trustees, or to approach local organisations who may be willing to give their workforce space to volunteer as a trustee.

At this point, you should be getting people who are interested in becoming involved in your charity (fingers crossed!). There are many ways to interview people. You could have an informal chat or have a more formal interview. Either way, be prepared to answer any questions they may have and select the candidate with the right skills, passion and enthusiasm

Once you have the right person for the job, and they have been elected in line with your governing document, it is vital to put them through a good induction process. Give them the key documents they need and organise for them to go to any events, training or otherwise, that are appropriate.

In addition to the guidance on our website, we are speaking about trustee recruitment at various events. We are holding a session at The Gathering on 20 February called Looking for heroes. This will cover the steps trustees should take in more detail and facilitate a discussion to share good practice. But if you can’t make it along, don’t worry! We plan to film the event for our YouTube channel and talk about the subject in our upcoming Meet the Regulator events.

We know recruitment of charity trustees is difficult. By concentrating on this topic during the coming year, and working closely with partners on this theme, we hope we can play a small role in making this just a little bit easier for all Scotland’s charities.

Jude Turbyne is head of engagement at the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator

Looking for heroes (Wednesday 20 Feb, 2pm, Dochart Suite)

5th February 2019 by Lynsey

Eh I think that's a Spiderman quote rather than a Voltaire quote...

8th February 2019 by Alan

Very practical, but I'm not sure 'heroes' hits the mark. It sounds like charities are looking for some kind of saviour, when in fact they need people with specific skills and experiences, willing to give their time and take on the legal and organisational responsibilities. Framing Trustees as heroes somewhat undermines the role, in my mind. I don't know any Trustees who would describe themselves in this way.