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'stronger charities': a call for skilled trustees

3 July 2017

In its report released in March 2017, ‘Stronger charities for a stronger society’, the House of Lords Select Committee outlined key areas of improvement for the charity sector in a bid to increase public confidence. The report comes in response to the rather turbulent period for the sector following incidents such as the Olive Cooke scandal in 2015. The Select Committee’s main recommendation is that the sector can be strengthened through the recruitment of more trustees from diverse backgrounds and the promotion of the importance of trusteeship.

In particular, the report emphasises the need for more trustees possessing requisite financial skills in order to manage charity finances efficiently. To achieve this, Baroness Pitkeathley who chaired the inquiry highlights that businesses need to be encouraged to provide support to their employees performing trustee roles. Though it seeks to promote the benefits of trusteeships, the report also recognises that more needs to be done in terms of delivering training and support to those in trustee and volunteer roles.

Digitalisation of charities is also a key area. In addition to financial skills, the report recommends that charities appoint at least one trustee with digital expertise. With the ever-expanding role of the internet as a source of information, utilising a digital platform is invaluable to charities. The report suggests that at the very minimum even small charities should have an accessible website.

By reviewing the sector and reinforcing the benefits obtained by becoming a trustee of a charity, the report seeks to generate interest in such roles and in turn boost public confidence in the charity sector.

Ensure that your charity undertakes a regular skills audit of trustees and consider approaching friendly commercial partners for trustee volunteers.

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