Charity Trustees - It’s a man’s world

During Trustees’ Week the important work that Charity Trustees do has, once again, come under the spotlight. New research – commissioned by the Office for Civil Society and the Charity Commission, and led by Cass Business School and the Cranfield Trust – found that charities need to do more to promote diversity on their Boards to reflect the communities they serve.

The research found that the majority of trustees are white, older, with above average income and education, and that men outnumber women by two to one. The report delves further into the relevant skills of the trustees at Board level, discovering that many trustees reported a lack of relevant legal, digital, fundraising, marketing and campaigning skills, as well as concerns regarding skills to deal with fraud and external cyber-attacks.

It’s therefore interesting to note that despite this overwhelming concern regarding a lack of skills, trustees still rely on advice from each other, with only 6% seeking guidance or training from an external provider.

The Charity Commission formally responded to this report, acknowledging the contribution trustees make to the sector, which goes largely unseen and unrewarded financially, and the contribution the sector as a whole makes to our society. Together with accepting their influence in the sector and the factors they need to focus on, the Charity Commission also highlighted the challenge those offering support face given the distinct gap between the support available and the uptake.

As a provider of support to the charity sector, we want to help bridge this gap. Particular skill sets highlighted in the report which require improvement at Board level include Fraud and Cyber; both matters we can and do support charities with. Our dedicated Governance, Risk and Assurance team deliver Board training on these issues to help trustees better understand the risks and how to deal with them. Not only can we help with training, but we also have the solutions to prevent and detect the fraud and corruption risks facing the sector. Additionally, our cyber experts can support charities with protection against cyber-attacks and provide health checks on your current cyber infrastructure.

We take our specialism in the sector seriously and aim to bring the support that’s available closer to those who need it. For example, we recently partnered with the Charities Against Fraud partnership and the Fraud Advisory Panel to launch the first ever Charities Against Fraud Awards, helped draft the newly released ‘The Informed Trustee’ online qualification for trustees, and contributed to the first #TrusteeHour on Twitter earlier this week.

I strongly encourage you to read the full report and consider how this reflects on your charity and your Board of Trustees. How will you respond so that your Board represents the community that you serve and has the relevant skill sets to deal with the 21st century? Take the leap and use external providers like ourselves for help – that’s what we are here for; to provide the solutions that will help you to fulfil the purpose your charity was set-up to achieve.

For more information about how we can support you and your charity, contact Nick Simkins, Head of Not-for-profit.

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