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Board Composition

Composing your board and making sure you get all the skill sets you need can be a challenge, 74% of charities find it hard to recruit trustees, over 90% of charities recruit through word of mouth and existing networks and only 14% feel well equipped to meet the compliance, strategic and development needs of the charity over the next three years. So don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed- you’re not alone!

What do boards need to have?

Diversity– Boards need to have both skills and experience and diversity to be effective. This means diverse in skills, diverse in perspectives, ethnicities, abilities, ages and genders.

Lived experience– Those with lived experience may not have professional skills, but contribution is different to, not less than board members with specific skills.

A good number– With enough members to carry out its role, but not so many to impair decision making- often 6 to 12 is a good number.

Regular turnover– Having a regular turnover of members helps to bring in new ideas and skills.

What is often missing?

‘Professional’ skills – finance, PR, fundraising, legal, digital, HR and marketing skills.

Young people – the average age of a trustee is 57 and only 0.5% of trustees are 18-24.

People of colour – 6% of trustees are from BAME backgrounds. This compares to 8% of FTSE 100 company directors.

Service-users or those with “lived experience” – 59% of charities said that their boards were not representative of the communities they serve.

Women – Charity Commission research November 2017 found that the ratio of men to women is 2:1.

Other minority groups – disabled people and other minorities are likely to be under-represented.

When recruiting for trustees it is important to be open and inclusive in your process, make sure to make it clear in the application that you welcome and encourage people from a range of backgrounds. Make sure you advertise to your community as well so that service users know that you are recruiting and can also apply. If you are interviewing in person make sure it is in a building that is accessible and that meetings are also held in accessible spaces. A more diverse board will bring more different perspectives and life experiences and will often be more effective and successful in the long run.