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Top tips on attracting trustees

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At iMultiply, we have a special place in our hearts and our business for non-profit organisations. I’ve personally worked for a number of years in charities until I crossed over to the dark side of recruitment; so for me it’s a very special subject and one that I feel very passionately about!  We offer a free advertising service for not-for-profits who are looking to recruit on to their Board of Directors or Trustees.  I’m sure most people would agree that a strong Board is invaluable when running any size of organisation but it’s not always easy to attract and retain the right calibre of individual to sit on your Board.

I think there are 5 key areas to consider when looking to recruit onto a Board:

Skills:  While someone who is passionate about ‘the cause’ is fantastic, is that really what your Board needs?  If you need a finance, HR or legal specialist, then you should be specific - be ruthless about it!

Diversity: A diverse Board is critical. A wide range of perspectives is essential to effective good governance.  By diversity, I don’t just mean age and gender: but a range of perspectives from a variety of backgrounds which allows the organisation to tackle the same challenge or idea in different ways. 

Eligibility: It’s important to consider if there are any conflicts of interest for both parties.  There can be legal restrictions on who can act as a trustee e.g. individuals can’t be a trustee if they are disqualified under the Charites Act.  Consult the charity regulator (OSCR) for full details on the legalities surrounding becoming a trustee.

Attraction and Selection:  This is key - are you advertising on job websites and hoping for the best?  The truth is that the type of person you need may not even know that websites like that exist. Look further afield, ask for recommendations from your network and go out to professional recruiters who understand the market.  Don’t make the process too long: yes you need to go through certain channels but do you really need that 10 page application form completed? There should always be a face to face meeting with your Chair as well as the CEO, to get full buy-in from all parties.

Retention: You need to be honest with people about the commitment involved: is it really just attending a board meeting every month or is there more to it than that?  How much preparation is required?

It works both ways: not only does the organisation benefit for having an amazingly experienced/qualified person on their Board but the individual in question gains a whole new world of experience that can not only add to their CV and experience.  It’s a win/win situation all round! 

We also like to practice what we preach. Here at iMultiply, a number of us sit on the Boards of charities and not-for-profit organisations.  I’ve have recently joined the Board of a fantastic charity called Say Women,I’m on the committee for a great networking group called Scottish Women in Business and a trustee of a new charity called Awesome Glasgow.  It means that I get to stay connected to the 3rd sector and use my skills and experience to support their growth whilst developing myself at the same time.  In my experience, it can be massively rewarding on a number of levels and it helps me that both organisations operate in particular interests of mine. My advice as a candidate is to choose an organisation or area that you have an interest in and where you can add value.

Remember: you only get out of it what you put in so choose carefully!