We all know how hard it can be to recruit trustees, but a new report has found that it’s not that people aren’t interested in being on a board – the problem is down to poor recruitment practices that are in danger of damaging the effectiveness of charities across the UK.

The report,‘The Looming Crisis in Charity Trustee Recruitment’ shows that over half of UK charities have a trustee vacancy or would consider an addition to their board. However with a figure of 21% of the British public saying they’d be interested in being on the board of a charity, where’s the mismatch?

Well to start with, less than 10% of trustee vacancies are ever advertised, with most charities recruiting through word-of-mouth. Yet if you rely on your existing networks, then you’re only going to get more of the same, which can leave you with a board where it’s difficult to challenge and spark debate, wit6h a lack of diversity and community representation.

This lack of diversity can have the potential to hit your charity where it really hurts – financially. More and more funders are looking at board composition, and if your trustees lack different life experiences and aren’t representative of the community you serve, it could prove difficult to make your case for funding.

As the sector faces more and more challenges – austerity, increasing legislation and Brexit, to name but a few – your board needs to be as effective as possible. With an open and professional trustee recruitment process, you’ve got more chance of your board meeting all the strategic, financial and legal demands on the horizon.

Don’t forget the importance of a good role description and a thorough induction for your trustees once you do get them through the door either. They’re giving up their time and their expertise, so you need to give them all the support you can. The report found that 30% of charities do not offer any induction to new trustees. Come on, we can and we must do better than that.

Greater professionalism in trustee recruitment leads to a more effective board, which ultimately means a better charity. As a result we’re running a new course on Trustee Recruitment and Induction in Edinburgh in October. We’ll be looking at how to identify skills gaps on your board, the pros and cons of different recruitment methods, and the importance of clear trustee adverts and a streamlined application process. We’ll cover how to ensure your new trustees are aware of their legal responsibilities and what should (and shouldn’t) be included in an induction programme. Join us, and turn this particular crisis into an opportunity.