With the UK economy continuing to grow, wages outstripping inflation and employment on the rise it has never arguably been a better time for the social sector to think more strategically about its approach to board recruitment and development. However, life is never that simple. Especially with the challenge of three more years of austerity and service delivery organisations facing greater competition from the private sector.
Social media has also provided a useful platform for smaller less known charities, who often struggle to make their voice heard against the larger more well-known brands, make their presence felt.
So why are some charities struggling to capitalise?
A possible solution could be improving the diversity of their trustee boards, ensuring that they appoint the best people to govern the charity and that the Board reflects society more generally.
It is also well known fact that charities have continued to make significant progress to demonstrate the effectiveness of their work and interventions and to leverage the resources that they have at their disposal. Recruiting professionals with commercial experience can help to build on this progress, strengthen their brand and reach new audiences at a time when corporates are increasingly seeking to more actively engage with the sector and potentially brand programmes and schemes of work under their own name.
Trusts and Foundations are also increasingly looking much more closely at governance arrangements, most notably in relation to how Board members are recruited, how performance is reviewed and how the voice of the service user or beneficiary is heard at Board level.
Appointing trustees from the same networks as they have always been is no longer an option in an environment characterised by increasing levels of scrutiny.
We know that diverse boards make better decisions. Organisations with boards that contain a broader range of skills, knowledge and experience should be better equipped to overcome the challenges that they will face.
Charities are also aware of the lack of diversity on boards today and are increasing their efforts to ensure that young people, women and people from different ethnic minority groups in particular are offered the opportunity to be represented.
Recruiting trustees with professional skills from more diverse backgrounds will lead to better decision-making, greater innovation and ensure organisations operate more effectively and competitively.