ICSA releases guidance to help charities with trustee recruitment

London, 31 July 2017 – ICSA: The Governance Institute has today released guidance to help charities recruit trustees. The guidance was written to provide those responsible for or involved in the governance of a charity with detailed information on how to recruit and appoint charity trustees following the revelation in May this year by Getting On Board – a charity supporting board level recruitment – that 74% of respondents to a survey into trustee recruitment found recruiting trustees difficult.

‘Charity trustees are central to the success of a charity, being responsible for the overall direction, strategy and vision of the organisation. It is therefore imperative that trustees are effective both individually and collectively if they are to have a positive impact on the charity and enable the organisation to fulfil its charitable objects,’ says Louise Thomson, Head of Policy (Not for Profit) at ICSA: The Governance Institute.

‘As the Charity Governance Code (2017) states, every charity should be ‘headed by an effective board that provides strategic leadership in line with the charity’s aims and values.’ As a member of the Steering Group that worked on the Code, I consider that for trustees to be able to fulfil this role it is crucial that the board has the skills, experience, background and knowledge required for the effective administration of the charity in pursuit of its objects. Inherent in building and maintaining an effective board of trustees is having robust systems for recruitment, appointment and induction of trustees, backed up by ongoing support and development,’ continues Louise.

To recruit successfully, it is essential that all involved, including potential trustees, know exactly what the legal role and duties of trustees are. The guidance covers such things as legal and governance considerations; recruitment methods; and advice on how to prepare for and manage the recruitment process as far as nomination, appointment and induction. Key recommendations include:

  • Trustees should primarily be appointed for what they can contribute in experience, diversity, empathy and knowledge
  • Trustees must be able to devote sufficient time and commitment to the role. Any communications to potential trustees relating to the position, and the charity, should be a true and fair portrayal of the work and time commitment involved
  • Using a skills audit to assess the strengths of the current board, and aligning those to the strategic plan, will help identify any gaps that could be addressed in the recruitment process
  • Charities must ensure that trustees are appointed in the appropriate manner. Failure to do so could result in the trustee body being in breach of trust, and in some severe cases mean that none of the trustees are legally able to make any decisions as they were not appointed correctly
  • Trustees must act solely in the interests of the charity and not of any other organisation or interested party
  • Charities need to be aware of any other directorships or trusteeships that new trustees may hold and any interests in contracts
  • References should be taken to verify the experiences and skills of the candidate and to check any other matters that may have arisen in the course of the recruitment procedure
  • A full and tailored programme of induction should be designed to enable new trustees to make the maximum contribution as quickly as possible. At the end trustees should be absolutely clear what is expected of them, and where to turn for help and guidance when required
  • After the recruitment, appointment and induction of trustees, the board should commit to undertake ongoing training and development to ensure that their knowledge is up to date and relevant.

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For further information, please contact Maria Brookes, Media Relations Manager:

+44 (0)20 7612 7072
+44 (0)7890 649 143

Notes to Editors:

  1. ICSA: The Governance Institute is the professional body for governance. We have members in all sectors and are required by our Royal Charter to lead ‘effective governance and efficient administration of commerce, industry and public affairs’. With over 125 years’ experience, we work with regulators and policy makers to champion high standards of governance and provide qualifications, training and guidance.
    Website: www.icsa.org.uk
  2. ICSA’s Charity Trustee Recruitment guidance can be downloaded at www.icsa.org.uk/charity-trustee-recruitment 
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