Trustees Week Day 1: One step at a time

Introducing Trustees Week

Welcome to the start of National Trustees’ Week, which this year runs from 2nd – 6th November. This year, for obvious reasons, VANEL is not holding any meetings or events specifically focusing on Trustees and Governance, but nevertheless we’re keen to support this annual acknowledgement of all things Trustee related.

So each day this week I’ll publish a ‘thought of the day’ to get you and your board/committee/fellow trustees thinking about trusteeship. We’ll also share any resources and useful information that’s popping up. And finally we’ll promote any local trustee and committee vacancies you might have.

Further information about Trustees’ Week (and indeed, about trustees) can be found on the national website here

Terminology: Although it is Trustees Week, and Trustees are formally those leading registered charities, much discussion and advice around trusteeship is about general good governance and will apply equally for committee members on constituted groups too.

Thought of the day: One step at a time

Day to day, month to month, the normal activities of a board of Trustees / a committee is to lead and run the organisation. In challenging times like now, these activities to keep the charity running and stable and to meet increasing or new demands from beneficiaries can be all encompassing.

But improving the governance of your organisation is a proactive activity that can set you up better for the future. A well governed organisation can appear better to staff, volunteers, prospective trustees and partners. Grant funders commonly examine governance arrangements so demonstrably strong governance can help financially. And proactive good governance – ensuring a strong, effective, diverse board, with appropriate policies and approaches in place, can help head off future problems before they arise.

But moving your governance forward – reviewing, analysing, looking at best practice, training, putting ‘systems’ in place takes time. And it takes time out of your busy schedule.

So, understand that this will take time and don’t rush it and expect miraculous change. Ensure someone on the committee (the chair?) is leading and championing the change to keep it going. Make governance development an actual project, task or agenda item. Do it in small bits – one meeting at a time, one action at a time – don’t try and tackle everything at once. Be patient but keep going. Spend time learning from others – everything you’re doing, struggling with or trying to do has already been done by someone else, so learn from them.

Your board meetings are spread out through the year, so unless you can set team members or fellow trustees onto governance development as a weekly task (unlikely) then you have to accept that you’ll only make small progress month by month. Accept this, choose some priorities, get started and keep going. Good luck.

Local organisations seek trustees

If your organisation is actively seeking trustees/directors/committee members, please let me know ( and I’ll promote those opportunities here over the coming week.

To start us off this week:

Great Grimsby Ice Factory Trust are seeking a new Treasurer and this is an interesting opportunity for someone with an interest in heritage, buildings and community. You can read more about the Trust and the treasurer role here and please contact Vicky direct if you are interested.

Do you want to promote a trustee role here this week? Email me via

Resources and information

Once again for Trustees’ Week, NCVO has made ALL of their Trustee resources FREE to everyone (often many of these resources are for their members only). So if you’re serious about governance development in your organisation then now is the time to get hold of some useful resources. Get to the resources here.

The Charity Commission has today launched 5 new 5 minute guides for Trustees. Read the story behind these here and follow the links to each of the guides.