Principle 3:
Working Effectively

1. Making sure the board has the necessary skills, experience and diversity to work effectively

NCVO’s ‘Trustee Recruitment Resources for Small Organisations’ Step 2 includes a Skills Audit Template (Activity 2) to help you identify what skills your organisation already has and where it might need to develop or recruit for new skills.

This can be found under ‘Advice and Support’ / ‘Governance and Leadership’ / ‘Resources’ / ‘Trustee Recruitment On-line Resources for Small Organisations’ (filed under ‘G’ for Good Practice!) on the NCVO website www.ncvo-vol.org.uk.

2. Finding and recruiting new board members with the skills, experience and diversity the organisation needs

General Recruitment Resources

NCVO’s ‘Trustee Recruitment Resources for Small Organisations’ is a good starting point for everything to do with trustee recruitment.

The full suite of resources can be found under ‘Advice and Support’ / ‘Governance and Leadership’ / ‘Resources’ / ‘Trustee Recruitment On-line Resources for Small Organisations’ (filed under ‘G’ for Good Practice!) on the NCVO website
www.ncvo-vol.org.uk.

The ‘Good Practice in Trustee Recruitment Toolkit’ is available in both full and summary versions (the summary is called ‘Recruit a Trustee Pocket Guide’).  It can also be downloaded via the ‘Governance and Leadership’ / ‘Resources’ section of the NCVO website www.ncvo-vol.org.uk.

The Charity Commission’s guidance ‘Finding New Trustees’ (CC30) contains more details of regulatory and legal matters such as eligibility and CRB checks.  It can be downloaded from the Commission’s Guidance page under ‘Charity Requirements and Guidance’ / ‘View All Guidance’ on the Commission’s website www.charity-commission.gov.uk.

Trustee Finding Services

There are a number of brokering and trustee finding services through which you can advertise trustee vacancies and find new trustees:

  • Local Volunteer Centres are all linked into the national ‘Do-It’ database.  You can find your local centre by visiting the Do-It website www.do-it.org
  •  NCVO have details of their own trustee brokering service – Trustee Bank – on their website at www.ncvo-vol.org.uk/trusteebank, but they also list other brokering services such as ‘Trustees Unlimited’, there too.
  • Reach matches skilled volunteers, including trustees, with organisations.
  • Trustee Works is their trustee service: www.reachskills.org.uk/trusteeworks
  • Small Charities Coalition offer the free service Trustee Finder on their website at www.smallcharities.org.uk/trusteefinder.  Once registered, organisations can upload details of their vacancy on the website, which can then be searched by people looking to become trustees.  Trustee Finder builds on the services of Do-It and Volunteer Centres.
  • The Charity Commission also offers information and links to organisations that can help with finding trustees.  See ‘About us’ / ‘About Charities’ / ‘Trusteeship’ on the Commission’s website www.charity-commission.gov.uk.

Eligibility

NCVO’s ‘Trustee Recruitment Resources for Small Organisations’ Step 4 includes a template for a ‘Declaration of Eligibility’ (Activity 7).  This is a statement that trustees sign to confirm they are legally allowed to be trustees.  It lists the reasons why someone cannot become a trustee.  It can be found under ‘Advice and Support’ / ‘Governance and Leadership’ / ‘Resources’ / ‘Trustee Recruitment On-line Resources for Small Organisations’ (filed under ‘G’ for Good Practice!) on the NCVO website www.ncvo-vol.org.uk.

The Charity Commission’s guidance ‘Finding New Trustees’ (CC30) also lists places where you can check that trustees are not disqualified.  (See Principle 3, Item 2 – ‘General Recruitment Resources’ above for links).

Role descriptions

Links to model role description information are given under ‘Principle 1 – Understanding the Board’s Role’.

3. Providing suitable induction for new board members and providing learning and development opportunities for existing board members

Developing an Induction Programme

NCVO’s ‘Trustee Recruitment Resources for Small Organisations’ Step 5 includes a template for an Induction and Welcome programme for new trustees (Activity 9).  It can be found under ‘Advice and Support’ / ‘Governance and Leadership’ / ‘Resources’ / ‘Trustee Recruitment On-line Resources for Small Organisations’ (filed under ‘G’ for Good Practice!) on the NCVO website www.ncvo-vol.org.uk.

There is a model checklist in NCVO’s ‘Good Practice in Trustee Recruitment Toolkit’ (see Principle 3, Item 2 – ‘General Recruitment Resources’ above for links).

ICSA also has guidance notes on Trustee induction programmes, letters, declarations, code of conduct, which are all accessible via the Policy and Guidance section of the ICSA website.

Providing Learning and Development Opportunities

For training and development opportunities, see the ‘General Resources’ section.

4. Holding regular, planned meetings

Activity: ‘Board Meetings – Developing Good Practice’

A quick quiz to help identify any areas where you could improve your meeting practice.  It also contains a list of ‘good habits’ to help individual board members improve their own participation in meetings:

 
The Charity Commission’s guidance ‘Charities and Meetings’ (CC48) contains more details about ‘technical’ matters such as minutes, voting and the role of the Chair and Secretary at meetings.  It can be downloaded from the Commission’s Guidance page under ‘Charity Requirements and Guidance’ / ‘View All Guidance’ on the Commission’s website www.charitycommission.gov.uk.

ICSA also has a guidance note on Good Boardroom Practice and Board Meeting Etiquette, both accessible from the Policy and Guidance section of the ICSA website.

5. Maintaining effective relationships within the board

Developing a Code of Conduct

Charity Trustee Networks (CTN) have produced ‘Developing and Using Codes of Conduct for Trustees’, a booklet on writing and introducing a Code of Conduct for your board, including both a simple model and a more detailed one.  The booklet can be downloaded from the Small Charities Coalition website www.smallcharities.org.uk under ‘Resources’ / ‘Governance’ / ‘Codes of Conduct’.  ICSA also has a Model Code of Conduct for Charity Trustees, which can be downloaded from the Policy and Guidance section of the ICSA website.

6. Check how well your Board is performing from time to time

Using the Code of Governance

You can work through the Code, section by section, and decide if your organisation is a) doing well, b) just about OK or c) needs improvement in that area.  List any things you want to improve and set action points to improve them, including what you intend to do, who is responsible for doing it and when you aim to have it done by.  You may find the Code Toolkit helpful for doing this.

Using National Occupational Standards

The ‘National Occupational Standards for Trustees and Management Committee Members’ (NOS) focuses on individual board members, rather than the board collectively.  It’s a good way for board members to reflect on their own performance and development needs.

The NOS and a supporting toolkit full of exercises and activities can be downloaded from the NCVO website www.ncvo-vol.org.uk under ‘Advice and Support’ / ‘Governance and Leadership’ / ‘Information’ section, by following the ‘Trustee’ link and selecting ‘Tools and Support for Trustees’.

Using Quality Standards

Quality Standards, especially ones written for the voluntary sector, provide another way for the board to review its performance as well as that of the organisation overall.

Links to Quality Standard information are given under ‘Principle 2 – Doing What the Organisation Was Set Up To Do – Activities and Resources’

Using Other Review Tools

There are plenty of other performance review tools available.

Here are just two of them, both available from NCVO www.ncvo-vol.org.uk: