Trustee Chair = Risk averse

CEO = Always pushing to grow

ella forum’s research shows that 65% of issues in a charity organisation relate to this relationship. 

No one needs research to tell you that having a perfect relationship makes the biggest impact in a charity’s success. The structure created, managed and monitored by the charity commission (which is the same for all charities) is what many of us believe is the basic cause of the friction that is created.

The Chair of Tustees, in fact all the trustee team, are unpaid but have full financial responsibility for the charities results. The CEO has the responsibility for developing the charity and growing the charity’s success and it’s a paid position and, of course, manages the day to day work of the charity.

Two leaders with a different set of needs.

One boat being pushed in two different directions. 

This creates friction and always puts the CEO in a position whereby they have little self-esteem. The knock-on effect of this is that it creates an organisation that lacks the enthusiasm that is a natural resource which needs an outlet to succeed.

The solution is for the Chair and CEO to work in partnership and both agree the VISION, PURPOSE & VALUES, and always work together in achieving these goals.

Whenever there is a change of Chair or CEO, the new person must thoroughly buy into the partnership or not join. Most of the trustees do not understand their roles and how to behave and rarely accept the need for training.

This is then carried through by the Chair not allowing the CEO or the team to have any personal development training which so necessary in all businesses. Their thinking is the CEO should be on the front line feeding the cause and that is a waste of their time. The Chair needs to be a better and a more efficient leader.

The solution is for the Chair and CEO to work in partnership and both agree the VISION, PURPOSE & VALUES and always work together in achieving these goals to achieve growth.

Often, we hear from our members that the trustees have elected a new chair. This role is not taken seriously enough. Too many times the most popular trustee is elected or someone who assumes it’s their turn to chair. Chairing is a skill, not all have it. Chairs should be appointed who have the ability to chair.

An interesting story demonstrating this problem is a follows:

A CEO has developed his charity very effectively and is creating a huge surplus of cash in the bank. The team wishes to increase the number of people that are benefiting from the cause. The CEO asked the board to sanction the expenditure for new staff and a building.

The reserves were £2,000,000 and the team put together a great proposal for the Board to review. The Board turned it down as the risk was too great to take.

Interestingly, a new chair was appointed and he sanctioned the expenditure and the charity is prospering from it. The team is enthused and 1,000 additional underprivileged beneficiaries are now better off.