Recruiting trustees is a vital part of what you do. Once you’ve got them, make sure they are given a thorough induction.
Check your governing document
The first trustees are likely to be drawn from the group who set up the organisation. After that, the trustees will, and should, change over time with some people leaving and some new members joining. This provides a healthy process for fresh ideas, new skills and outside energy to come in, and prevents the organisation going stale. This turnover should be planned, and your governing document should detail who can be a trustee, how they’re elected, how long they can be in office, and whether they are eligible for re-election if they wish to continue.
Where are the gaps?
Before you look for new trustees you should see what skills your current board has, and identify where there are any gaps with a skills audit. Work out what you will need now and in the future, and what you’re looking for in a new trustee. Prepare a job description or profile of the skills, experience and knowledge required, and some background information on your organisation.
Mix it up
Recruitment procedures should be open and transparent to ensure the best possible mix of skills, knowledge, attitudes and experience. Use Goodmoves, your local Third Sector Interface, Volunteer Scotland and social media in your search.
Selection and Election
Any potential candidates need to have their eligibility checked. Meet them to find out whether they’ll be a good fit for your organisation. If they’re willing to join you, take up references and ask for proof of identity and qualifications. Ask them to sign a Trustee Consent and Declaration form, then make sure they’re elected in line with the rules in your governing document.
Co-option is a way of bringing someone onto your governing body at any time, where the usual process would involve an election at the AGM. Your governing document should indicate whether co-opted members have a vote. You should minute the nature of the role so that there is no confusion or misunderstanding in the future.
Finding a Chair
The role of the Chair is crucial, and the selection, election or appointment needs to be open and transparent. Some organisations recruit their Chair from existing trustees, others seeks to recruit someone who can bring specific skills and experience to the role. Your governing document should describe how your Chair is selected.
A good induction is vital for new trustees, we have a sample Trustee induction checklist which you can use to prepare your own induction process.
- Know about the organisation and its aims, and understand the challenges it faces and the support they can expect
- understand their role and responsibilities, and any personal liabilities
- visit your organisation and get the opportunity to meet with existing trustees, staff, volunteers, beneficiaries and service users
- understand what expenses they can claim.
The induction pack should include a copy of the governing document, accounts, previous minutes. You should make sure your new recruits understand these key documents.
Trustees need to play a full part in discussions and decision making. A good induction will set the groundwork for future development and learning. Think about having an existing trustee mentor a new one, and make sure you continue to develop your board. Review the induction process with your new trustees after six months, to ensure that their knowledge and understanding is as it should be.
Good governance needs well informed and active trustees. SCVO can provide further training and resources to help ensure your organisation is governed effectively.