Getting support for you and your fellow volunteer trustees

As a Trustee or a Board you’re not on your own. There is a huge variety of support out there that you can use to ensure you are well informed, implementing best practices and doing the best governance you can manage for the benefit of your organisation and the beneficiaries it serves.

But to get support you need to proactively seek it out, find what is useful and then apply it. The best resource and support in the world is wasted if you don’t know it’s there and if you don’t use it.

So a quick summary of some key places I suggest you can visit to find support…

The Charity Commission is the most obvious – their website, their blog and a variety of resources.

NCVO leads on a wide variety of governance support initiatives. There’s a summary on their website here. Their Governance blog is here. They also run KnowHowNonProfit which is a hugely valuable set of resources including things like “Board Basics” here. Some are free, some are for NCVO members only (many extras free during Trustees’ Week only!). Take a look.

There are a number of books published by NCVO that are also extremely useful to have. VANEL have a number of copies of the older Good Trustee Guide book that members of the VANEL Trustee Network are welcome to borrow.

Civil Society has lots of resources too. In particular they produce Governance and Leadership magazine which is comprehensive and full of information and updates for your trustees. However, it does cost around £100-200 per year to subscribe.

NPC is another favourite resource for me – usually reports that make you think a bit differently.

Of course closer to home, VANEL provides other resources that are available to Members/Friends and to members of our Trustee Network as well. We have a (generally) weekly e-blog “Governance Weekly” with quick news updates, as well as a daily, detailed e-blog on AboutGovernance which is specifically for members of our Trustee Network. We do also have a ‘library’ of governance books which are available to refer to or borrow.

But although resources are continually updated, most of these I’ve mentioned have been around in one form or another for many years. Their existence is irrelevant if you – as an individual trustee, or as a board – don’t look for them and use them. The books and guides contain valuable information and insights. But you need to spend time sometimes to read and digest them and to plan your actions from them.

So another approach is training. Unfortunately much of the best trusteeship and governance training is offered nationally – meaning London mostly, with occasional Manchester or Birmingham or maybe Leeds.  So VANEL tries to provide similar training for Trustees more locally and more cost-effectively.

We deliver “Induction and Refresher Training for Trustees” regularly, but can also deliver training around “Trustees and Technology”, “Using the Charity Governance Code”, “Improving Inductions” and other bespoke training.  Just contact us to determine how we can train you or keep an eye on our events Calendar here.

VANEL can also provide bespoke consultancy to help you and your board develop your governance approaches. This may mean putting paperwork, processes and policies together. It could mean developing a Trustee Handbook, improving your induction or recruitment processes. It might mean skills development for your board. Or it may be as simple as running through the Charity Governance Code and helping you understand its relevance to what you do.

We have three levels of standard consultancy package – Essentials (5days), Effective (10days), Extensive (15days).

But on a bespoke basis we can provide consultancy on a day by day basis or for as little as a few hours tailored to your needs and budgets. Contact us to discuss.

And finally, we’re now offering our Trustee Network to all our Members and Friends. This is a private, online discussion space featuring peer support and mentored support around all issues related to trusteeship or governance.  It’s AboutGovernance – (and you can follow on Twitter too @aboutgovernance).  Contact me for details.

Finally, a couple of key resources to get you started:

Essential trustee – you all need to understand everything in here

The Charity Governance Code – a framework to help you ask questions

The Good Trustee Guide – if you’re going to buy a book, buy this one

Karl Elliott, Development Manager, VANEL
Good Governance Champion

AboutGovernance is the private, online discussion space for members of the VANEL Trustee Network. Daily articles cover all kinds of governance and trusteeship related topics. As part of Trustees’ Week I’ll be sharing this week’s articles on the main VANEL blog for everyone. After that – it’s back to members only I’m afraid.

Contact Karl for more details about the Network.
Follow the Trustee Network specifically on Twitter via @aboutgovernance