This is the final blog in a series celebrating Trustees Week and the launch of the Scottish Governance Code for the Third Sector. I hope you’ve found them useful and have maybe managed to attend an event to celebrate all that is great about trustees and Scotland’s third sector. To finish off, I’m going to turn my attention to the principle of Effectiveness.
An effective board is one that understands its role, powers and duties, and works as a team to achieve its organisational purpose. But how do you know if your board is effective? How can you tell if it adds real value to your organisation? Well here’s a few suggestions:
Mind the Gap
Board review and evaluation is the key to board effectiveness. But this is not just about regularly reviewing the performance of your existing trustees, it’s also about reviewing the composition and skills of the board as a whole. If you can identify where any skills gaps lie, linking a proactive succession plan to the long-term strategic direction of your organisation, then you can actively recruit to fill them.
Beyond the Usual Suspects
Instead of recruiting from who you know, advertise board positions and approach individuals that you think would add value to your board. You can ‘sell’ board membership as a personal development opportunity, as well as a chance to contribute to wider society. If you look beyond the ‘usual suspects’, this will help increase diversity on your board, another indicator of good governance. Once you have your new trustees, make sure they get a good induction, and consider having an existing trustee mentor them until they become more confident in their role. All trustees should get on-going support and training to develop the capacity and capability of the board.
Board meetings are the engine of good governance. They should be well-organised, well-informed and effectively chaired to ensure active participation. Meetings should be where trustees can explore key issues and reach well-considered collective decisions that are acted on. Spend time on making sure they are roadworthy.
So there’s some homework to work on to help ensure your organisation is well-governed, so it can be effective, sustainable and successful. The third sector has faced a number of challenges over the last few years, and many tabloid headlines could have been avoided if governance had been stronger and better. We hope the Scottish Governance Code will enable third sector organisations of all sizes and shapes to benchmark their own governance practices and help will play a role in rebuilding public trust and confidence. We’ve created awebsite for the Code that also has practical and accessible resources which underpin the principles, and which we hope will be continually developed, by the sector, for the sector.
Most people become trustees because they’re inspired by a cause and want to make a difference. The process of governance is not that interesting or exciting for many, other than your governance geeks. But governance matters. Our sector needs ways to demonstrate to the public that we are serving our beneficiaries, and are well run, open and transparent. One of the ways forward is to embrace the five principles of the Scottish Governance Code.