95% of people in the UK are unaware that they can support a charity by becoming a trustee. Looking at this figure, it seems no surprise then that nearly half of charities have vacancies on their board.
Board matters is a review of charity trusteeship in the UK. It questions the strength of trustee boards in the charity sector and argues that recruitment, training and evaluation of board members is frequently neglected because charities and funders do not prioritise governance.
The report highlights a number of improvements that could help to strengthen trusteeship, including:
- More action on recruitment from charities, funders and government to build people’s interest in trusteeship as a way of supporting charities and to increase the diversity of boards. This would include speeding up plans to develop a simpler system to link potential trustees with vacancies.
- Better support once boards are established. For example, charities should give more thorough inductions for new trustees and there should be increased opportunities for trustees to learn from each other. NPC believes that there is a need for a body that is responsible for trusteeship, which could coordinate efforts to improve standards, put information about charity governance in one accessible place, and encourage networking.
- A stronger focus on boards evaluating their own performance, particularly those of large organisations. Regular appraisals and evaluations of boards are critical to long-term effectiveness. NPC thinks that funders could make a big difference here by supporting larger grantees to undertake this. NPC came up with ten questions to help boards evaluate their performance which you can find at the back of the report.
When NPC analyses charities, we look for indications of good governance as this is a sign that the organisation is healthy and well-run, and that it is achieving what it set out to do.
Eleanor Stringer, report author