Our world is changing fast. As a trustee it’s important to keep up with what’s going on and to think widely about what might affect the future of your organisation.

Below are some key challenges coming in the future and issues for Trustees to consider.

How diverse is your board?

All the evidence shows that a diverse board makes better decisions. So you need to ask:

  1. How diverse is your board in terms of background, experience, gender, age, etc.
  2. When was the last time you did a board skills audit or assessed the board’s performance?
  3. Has your organisation signed up to 50:50 by 2020?
Are you feeling the financial Squeeze?

The age of austerity is continuing and we’re yet to feel the full force of public spending cuts.

We can expect more changes to services provided by the state, and there’s continuing pressure for third sector organisations to diversify income sources. For trustees this means being clear on your core mission and values. So you need to consider how to avoid mission drift, and whether you need to revisit your mission and values.

Blurring Lines?

The boundaries between sectors are increasingly blurred. There’s a rise in value-driven businesses and companies are seeing the benefit of behaving more ethically. Organisations can be a social business, a social enterprise or an enterprising charity.

Be clear on your business model beyond the current year. Is the organisation sustainable? If not, what’s your course of action?

Maintaining Trust and Transparency?

There is increasing pressure for organisations to be open and clear on their policies, such as charity pay, investments, fundraising and donor care strategies. Changes in accounting laws (FRS102 and SORP) mean pension deficits will soon have to be declared on balance sheets.

Will this impact on your ability to secure funding or contracts?

Is your fundraising strategy at odds with your organisational values? RNLI went public with a big change of direction in their strategy last week

Scandals likes Kids Company have highlighted the need for good governance. But as a trustee, how do you know what’s the right level of cost for your organisation? Spending too little can cause as many problems as spending too much. Have a look at this TED talk which encourages us to think beyond the bottom line.

The digital age

Technology is changing rapidly and along with it our lives – so is cyber crime. Charities are increasingly a target Some organisations are taking advantage of technology, some organisations have meetings via skype to enable trustees attend meetings.

When was the last time your board looked at the format of meetings and their effectiveness?

Demographic and social changes

Scotland is the only place in the UK where the birth rate is rising. There are more multigenerational households and more children are living at home longer.

Although technology is making the world get smaller, a trend is beginning to emerge for people living closer to their parents once they have left home. More grandparents are taking a formal role in caring for grandchildren.

  1. What will more young people mean for your organisation?
  2. Retirement age is increasing and more people are living with or caring for people with long term conditions, could this impact on the availability of volunteers?
  3. With a squeeze on the time of the group that may have been the traditional target for board recruitment, are you looking beyond the norm?
  4. Will it impact on your service users and your organisation’s purpose?

Depending on what your organisation does, these issues are bound to affect its work. The first step is to be aware. The world as it is now will not be the world of the future.