Friday, 11 November 2016

Using Trustees' Week to Strengthen Your Board

PQASSO bulletin November 2016
This month, Caroline Cook encourages you to use Trustees’ Week as a way to appreciate your trustees and to review their involvement in your organisation. Caroline is the PQASSO Programme Manager at NCVO. She was previously a consultant for many years working with a variety of organisations around strategy, business modelling, sustainability and governance.

Using Trustees’ Week to strengthen your Board

In summary

Trustees’ Week, 7-13 November,  is an annual event to showcase the great work that trustees do and highlight opportunities for people from all walks of life to get involved and make a difference. 

Why not use Trustees’ Week this year as the catalyst to think about trustees in your organisation and to review the trustee programme, from start to finish. The PQASSO standards can help you to do this.

Using Trustees’ Week to strengthen your Board

It often gets forgotten that trustees are volunteers, so it’s worth thinking about how you involve them in the same way you would with any volunteer programme – from start to finish – from the time you’re thinking about recruiting to when they leave the organisation.
Planning – Recruitment and selection - Induction, training, supporting, annual appraisal – Managing and exiting

Using PQASSO to review your trustee programme

PQASSO has good governance at its core. Quality area 1: Governance, sets the standard for an effective Board, well informed trustees and governance that is meeting all its legal and regulatory requirements. In this quality area and others, all of the elements of the trustee programme are covered, in terms of prompting you to think about how you do these things and identifying where you might want to make improvements.
QA1 Governance - The standard: The Board has the skills and information it needs to achieve the organisation’s mission and uphold its values. It ensures that the organisation is governed effectively and responsibly, determining strategy and policy. It demonstrates accountability to stakeholders, reporting openly on the organisation’s performance and impact.

References below refer to indicators in the PQASSO standards. E.g. 1.1.1 is quality area 1, level 1, indicator 1

Key stages of the trustee programme

Planning – Recruitment and selection - Induction, training, supporting, annual review – Managing and exiting
Planning – thinking about attracting new trustees – how do you know what skills and experience you need? How is diversity reflected in your trustees, or not? Ensuring there is a healthy turnover of trustees in line with your governing document.
1.1.1 Board members are appointed and resign or retire in line with legal requirements and the organisation’s governing document. There is a steady renewal of Board membership. Eligibility checks
are undertaken before appointment.
Recruitment and selection – making sure you have the right mix of skills and experience on the Board, and that your recruitment is open and transparent. Clear criteria will help you to select the people you need, and to sometimes be able to say no to those who don’t.
1.1.2 Board members are recruited to meet the skills, knowledge and experience needed to govern the organisation efficiently and effectively.

Induction, training, supporting, annual review – trustees are given what they need to understand their role and to perform effectively.
1.1.7 All new Board members receive an induction into the organisation.
5.1.6 ….. and volunteers have a volunteer role description, outlining their responsibilities and accountabilities, and they understand what they have to do.

5.1.8 Staff and volunteers get enough individual support to carry out their work effectively.

Managing and exitingtrustees are clear about the expectations the organisation has of them. If they are unable to meet these then it is clear who will do what to take some action. This could include needing to address issues to do with conflict of interest or where a trustee is not acting appropriately in that role. Trustees leaving the Board will have an exit meeting, usually with the Chair, to provide an opportunity for them to give feedback about their experience.
3.1.3 Board members and managers lead by example, taking decisions and actions that reflect the organisation’s values, and encouraging a culture consistent with those values.

What you or the Chair or the Chief Exec could do right now

·         Email your trustees and say ‘Happy Trustees’ Week’. Say a big thank you for the time and effort they give to your organisation. Let them know they’re appreciated
·         Send this blog to your trustees and if they haven’t recently reviewed how the trustee programme is working then now is a good time to take stock
·         Put review of the trustee programme on the next Board agenda

‘It’s great news that we have been awarded with the PQASSO Quality Mark. PQASSO has been hugely successful for us’.    Tim Fitches, Living Streets

For more information about trustees: 

For Charity Commission guidance:   

For find out more about PQASSO and the PQASSO Quality Mark visit the website or email

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