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Training to keep your board on track

Training to keep your board on track

Part of Inspiring Scotland’s work as a partner to third sector is supporting charities to develop strong governance, improving their resilience and better positioning the charities to drive impact. Our Specialist Volunteers team is on hand to coordinate free training sessions for charity Boards. We spoke with Elaine who heads the team to get the inside scoop on why Board training is important and how it can help boost your charity’s success.

Trustees are a valuable resource for a charity, tasked with ensuring all decisions put the charity and the beneficiary first. But in order to do their job well, individuals need to have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities, and the Board should be given opportunities to develop over time as a group. That’s where training comes in to play – supporting trustees with the tools they need to lead and ensure good governance, which is vital to the sustainability of the organisation.

Trustees provide foresight, oversight and insight, they don’t do the doing – remember “noses in, fingers out”! Afterall, responsibility for the charity rests with the Board – the buck stops with them – and as such trustees should be focused on their statutory duty of care and ensuring the charity acts in a manner consistent with its purpose(s) laid out in its constitution or rulebook.

One of the benefits of the session is that it acts as a spur to us to review and update things on a number of fronts. We did run our own self-assessment against the Scottish Governance Code two years ago, but we’ve rather taken our eye off the ball on some things since, so your excellent presentation and links are going to be very helpful as I aim to make sure the ship is Bristol-fashion before I plan to stand down in a year.

Nick Addington, Chair, Common Wheel

Training covers all the legal duties and responsibilities trustees should be aware of, from the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005, The Companies Act 2006, through to  Equality and Discrimination laws and Safeguarding legislation. It also updates trustees on indicated best practice from the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) who are there to support and guide charities in Scotland, over 25,000 so a lot of trustees!

This all sounds very dry and trustees may in fact be acutely aware of all their legal responsibilities but training also touches on their personal conduct, collective responsibility and the differences between governance and management. Often a trustee skills analysis is undertaken as part of the training, which allows trustees to identify any skill-set gaps they may have on their board or potentially uncover skills they didn’t know they had!

There is a marked emphasis on understanding financials within the training. This is an area which often does not get the scrutiny it deserves from trustees, as the information presented to the board is often overwhelming and complicated. The training delivers some simple solutions and templates to make understanding financials easy and even fun!

Training can also dispel myths about trusteeship, such as personal liability (which is normally limited to a £1 if the charity is incorporated) or the average time commitment of being a trustee (typically 30 hours per year).

Remember that trustees are volunteers and it’s important that they be empowered to deliver value in the boardroom to move the charity forward. Training sessions also reinforce the value that the trusteeship can bring to the trustee – in terms of personal development, new skills, boosting confidence and enjoying making a difference.

Trustee training is a great way to encourage more discussion and debate within boardrooms. Now more than ever we need boards with a diversity of perspectives that enables then to better navigate uncertainty and reflect the communities they serve.

If your charity is interested in  a trustee training session, we would be happy to help. We’ll work with you to coordinate a virtual session with the Board that usually takes an hour so it can be easily included in your existing board meeting calendar schedule. The training is bespoke, tailored to the needs of the organisation and includes signposting to third sector resources, the provision of templates, draft policies and procedures.  So far we have worked with 37 organisations year to date and more are booked in.

Our training sessions are open to charities across Scotland – your organisation does not already need to be accessing funding from Inspiring Scotland to be eligible for support.

Find out more about how our Specialist Volunteer Network can support your charity.

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