by Jack Leggetter
During my last year of university, I had the privilege of taking on a management research project. When deciding on a research subject, I decided to focus on creating a meaningful piece of work that could be used practically in the real world. I therefore focused my research on a major talking point in the charity sector: Trustee recruitment. I decided to base my research on small organisations within North and East Hertfordshire.
The main things I wanted to discover were:
- The current state of Trustee recruitment
- How Trustees feel about current recruitment practices
- What changes should be made
Through the study, I found that organisations in North and East Hertfordshire are very similar to the rest of the country in how they recruit trustees. The similarity is that word-of-mouth is still the most prominent method of finding and recruiting Trustees to charity boards.
A lot is said about the negative effects word-of-mouth recruitment can have on Trustee boards, however, very little is ever mentioned about the positives of having a board of Trustees formed through existing connections. Often boards built through existing relationships have the benefit of having previous chemistry and experiences together, making them more productive and able to better understand one another’s motivations and ability to bring unique skills to the board. However, word-of-mouth recruitment is still one of the root causes to why so many Trustee boards lack diversity in the UK.
When I asked Trustees about how they felt about their organisation’s current recruitment practices, there was a clear correlation between them being more satisfied when their organisation had a more detailed recruitment process with more stages. This was because it gave them a sense that everyone else on the board was put through the same process and were of the necessary skill/experience to competently conduct their role. They also noted how, when their organisation advertised for their Trustee roles, they were able to create a board with far more diversity.
Finally, it came time to decide how charities should recruit Trustees, it was clear that it was dependent on a variety of factors. For example, smaller charities with limited budgets won’t be able to do the level of marketing to attract and reach potential trustees from outside of their existing circles. Therefore, word-of-mouth is a good way of ensuring that these organisations can maintain boards with strong links and experience without long waits and recruitment processes. Larger organisations who work on a wider scale should use more elaborate and complex recruitment processes in order to make sure those joining the boards are of the necessary skill and experience to ensure organisation is in a strong place to grow and be sustainable.
If you’re interested in becoming a Trustee and would like to know about the requirements of the role and how to find your perfect opportunity, why not sign up to one of our Trustee workshops?
If you’re already a Trustee and would like to learn more about tactics in building and growing your Trustee board, have a look at our ”Building Effective Boards” guide for useful information, tips and resources for Trustees.