Thursday, 26 March 2015

How to Attract the Best Trustees - by Ian Joseph, CEO of Trustees Unlimited

With one in five charities reporting trustee vacancies on their boards, Ian Joseph, CEO of TrusteesUnlimited, offers advice for charities on how to recruit talented trustees.

Clear vision of the ideal candidate
Conduct an audit of the competencies, knowledge and experience needed for the role and recruit to that brief. Make sure you have a clear vision of what your ideal new trustee will be like and what you expect from them. Think about why someone would be interested in
volunteering their services with you. You may be passionate about your organisation, but can you create a compelling proposition about the role?

Clarity about the decision making process
Be clear about who is making the recruitment decisions. Have a clear process for informal meetings with the management team. Interviews should be evidence-based to test the candidates' motivation as well as their skills and experience. Make sure you always take verbal references at the interview stage.

Robust recruitment practices
Plan the recruitment process properly, scheduling in all activities and making sure those involved in the process are fully briefed. It is crucial to make sure all the trustees are happy with the process even if they are not directly involved in the selection. Recruiting a new trustee can take several weeks so make sure you allow time to do it professionally.

Clear role description
Create a clear role description, outlining the roles and responsibilities of being a trustee. Be clear about the expected time commitment and the location and times of meetings. Remember that many people won't understand what trusteeship involves and this can be one of the biggest hurdles. Creating a detailed role description for potential candidates can help overcome this.

Detailed information pack
Prepare an information pack for candidates. This should include links to the memorandum and articles of association, the financial accounts, biographies of your trustees and the governance structure, including sub committees and other useful information such as strategic plans.

Use your current networks
Tap into your current networks and engage the whole board in the process. Make sure everyone knows there is a vacancy available. However, a word of caution: your existing networks can often result in recruiting in the board's own image to so if possible, extend the search beyond this.

Advertise the role
Write a punchy advertisement for your website and distribute it via social media. If you produce a newsletter make sure you include the advert. Think about where the people you want to attract would be likely to see your advert – whether it's a local venue, specialist press, a volunteering website or elsewhere.

Widening the search
Be creative and think about other places you could advertise. There are resources available for publicising trustee roles free of charge such as NCVO's Trustee Bank. Contact the HR department of local businesses and see if you could post something on their intranet or in a staff newsletter.

Use a specialist recruitment firm
Consider using a professional recruitment firm with a track record of recruiting trustees. They will have a database of executives seeking trustee roles and be able to match candidates to your exact requirements. Some like Trustees Unlimited offer a cost-effective service based on the size of the organisation.

Before the new trustee joins
Once you have found your ideal candidate ensure they receive a good induction to help them settle in quickly. This includes clarity about your vision, your business plans, objectives and minutes of the last few meetings.

Ian Joseph is the chief executive of Trustees Unlimited.

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