Deborah Austin

Skills Audit for your Volunteer Board

  • Has your Board of Governors or Trustees had a skills audit recently?
  • Are your Board fit for purpose?
  • Are they providing the oversight necessary for effective governance?

Unlike a commercial business recruitment to membership of Boards of Governors or Trustees is often rather haphazard.

Volunteer Boards are made up, unsurprisingly, of volunteers – their role is not a paid one, they are giving up their time to make a difference in their community for a wide range of personal reasons.  Quite often members will comprise those who simply expressed an interest; a friend of an existing member; a key beneficiary of a grant giving charity; or simply those who have a child at a particular school.  Whilst these members are often enthusiastic they may not have the skills needed to provide the strategic direction required.

Those Boards in the public arena working with children, migrants or the socially deprived will also have a Local Authority Board member to provide a level of oversight for the Local Council.  Their insight into local council funding, budgeting and investment can be invaluable.

Board Members play a strategic role and management should be left to the Managers or Senior Leadership Team.  Board Members are to thinkers of the organisation and not the doers.  They should be analysing the information that is being provided to them to monitor the direction and implementation of their plans and they should be asking the right questions to ensure this.

So what skills does your Board need?  This is akin to “how long is a piece of string?” and depends on the type of activities the organisation is involved in, the number of staff employed, etc.

However some common skill requirements are:

  • Management
  • Finance
  • Law
  • Human Resources
  • Marketing
  • Health and safety
  • Information Technology
  • Contacts in local council or a local councillor
  • Contacts in your local or national oversight body
  • Sector specialisms – education, medical etc

The Board should cover all key skill areas both general as well as those specific to the area in which the Board activities are intended to make an impact.

To see how Dafferns can assist you with a skills audit for your Board contact Deborah Austin or Richard Miller.