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Trustees Unlimited offers advice on how to recruit the best trustees as it reaches new milestone

Trustees Unlimited offers advice on how to recruit the best trustees as it reaches new milestone

Trustees Unlimited, the joint venture recruitment company set up three years ago by Russam GMS, Bates, Wells & Braithwaite and NCVO has just appointed its 100th trustee appointment - Deborah McCluskey to the board of Age UK Croydon firmly establishing it as a leading supplier of trustees to the civil society sector.

Terry Roberts, the Chair of Age UK Croydon commented:  “We are very pleased that Deborah is joining the board of Age UK Croydon.  We are certain that she will both enjoy and be an excellent asset to the organisation in the months and years to come.  We look forward to having her with us.”

Ian Joseph, Chief Executive of Trustees Unlimited says, “Over the past three years we have placed an eclectic mix of trustees, including several young trustees onto UK charity boards. Our trustees tend to be from professional backgrounds and are bringing a range of valuable skills and experience to UK charity boards to help improve their effectiveness.”

“Diverse boards make better decisions, but the truth is many charities are still recruiting from within their own networks. Our recent research[i] showed that 45% of trustees are recruited through the existing networks, indicating that many charities are missing out on the best talent. Boards adopting this narrow approach to trustee recruitment run the risk of developing & lsquo;group think’.”

“Organisations with trustee vacancies should test the market. Even in cases where there are strong existing board members who perhaps wish to take the Chair role, it is good practice to put them through a competitive process and compare them with potential candidates from outside.”

Ian Joseph’s tips for finding the best trustees

Create a job description outlining not just what you want the person to do but the expected time commitments, location and times of meetings etc.

Conduct an audit of the competencies, knowledge and/or experience needed for the role and recruit to that brief.

Engage the whole board in the process.

Think about why someone would be interested in coming to volunteer with you. You are passionate about the cause, but does your marketing material make a compelling proposition?

Write a punchy advertisement!

Prepare an information pack for candidates that include a link to the memorandum & articles of association, the accounts, biographies of your trustees, governance structure including sub committees and anything else that could be useful.

Use social media to promote your opportunity.

Consider using a professional recruitment firm with a track record of recruiting trustees.

Be clear about who is making the decision. Is it the existing trustees or the membership? This needs to be clear upfront to avoid surprises later!

Have a clear process for informal meetings, tours of services and interviews.

Interviews should be evidenced based to test motivation as well as skills and experience.

Take references – always verbal.

Have a good induction process in place.

Pitfalls to avoid

Rely on word of mouth

Not disclose the true state of affairs, e.g. the reserves have run out!


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