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February 14th, 2020ArticlesGeoffrey Hand 0 Comments

charity board trustee succession planning

“Succession planning” for your trustee board may sound daunting.  And it might feel like an item on your never-ending To Do List which can surely wait.

But it can be a straight-forward part of your charity’s annual governance cycle.  It’s  the key to your charity’s sustainability, continuity and long-term success. 

A small investment in forward planning can do wonders in stopping the wheels from falling off when a key player needs to withdraw.  And neither do you want anyone to feel burdened by an obligation to keep going in a role they’ve lost their appetite for.

What are the rules for your trustee board?

Start with your charity’s Governing Document Check out the rules for the make-up of your trustee board. Confirm how and when trustees should be appointed – it’s often at the AGM. Is there a power to co-opt? Find out each trustee’s length of service and any retirement and re-election cycles. Check the exit dates for for each trustee, especially the Chair and other charity office holders.

Governance diary

All high-performing trustee boards diarise the components of their governance cycle. These include annual trustee skills audits and trustee board reviews. This gives a structure to your charity’s year. It can  trigger agenda items for your meetings.

Be sure to record the retirement  dates of every member of your board. Enter too the end-dates of your Chair’s and office-holders’ appointments.

A clear plan

This data gives your trustees the information they need to manage and plan succession. It shows you how much longer each of your trustees and office holders has to serve and when the vacancies that will arise.

Your trustee board can plan succession for each and every outgoing trustee and office holder as an individual project. They can recruit internally or externally, by word-of-mouth, advertisement or professional charity recruitment. Your charity’s strategic plan enables you to fine-tune your trustee board to fit your charity’s medium and long-term management requirements.

Training for Tomorrow

Home-grown is best. Use training to enhance the potential of your current trustees to become your charity’s future leaders. Adopt a programme of bespoke in-house professional development training  for the rising stars of your trustee board. It can be surprisingly  cost-effective

The Chair

The Chair is the single most important member of your Trustee Board . It is also the most difficult position to fill.  The Chair’s main roles and responsibilities are leadership; the public promotion of your charity; and maintaining a dynamic board. The Chair is responsible for implementing the succession planing process – including succession to the Chair.

Two tips:

  • Don’t leave it to chance.  Letting fate dictate your charity’s future is never a good idea. Succession planning for your Trustee Board takes the worry out of tomorrow.
  • Don’t leave it too late.  Start early. Ensure you have a succession plan in place for each outgoing trustee and office-holder well before succession issues arise.

And remember….

I’m here to help. As an experienced external facilitator I can bring an objective dynamism to the whole process. Don’t hesitate to give me a call – a call costs you nothing.

Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

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Geoffrey Hand

Geoffrey Hand is a charity governance consultant, offering governance consultancy and training. He also provides legal services management, helping charities get better value for money from their lawyers. Geoffrey has extensive experience in the charity and legal worlds, and his mission is to help charities deliver good governance.

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