A well-run board understands its role, powers and duties, and works collectively and proactively to achieve its organisational purpose.

As the board we should be self-aware and work together as a team, with a diverse and appropriate balance of skills and experience to continually improve the governance of our organisation. We will do this by:

  • understanding the legal structure and governing document of our organisation and making sure we act in line with it
  • setting, embedding and scrutinising the strategic direction of the organisation
  • regularly reviewing our performance and the composition and skills of the board
  • developing and improving our capacity and capability with on-going support and training
  • having a pro-active succession plan, which is linked to the strategic direction of the organisation, following any rules for how trustees are elected and how long they serve
  • having a transparent and timely trustee recruitment and induction process
  • making sure our meetings enable us to explore key issues and reach well-considered collective and recorded decisions that are acted on
  • ensuring that meetings are well-organised, well-informed, effectively chaired and there is active participation
  • communicating with those who have a legitimate interest in the work of our organisation

Three questions to think about at your next board meeting

  • How does your board know it is effective? eg how productive are your meetings?
  • Does your board regularly make time to review and reflect on its work and its working relationships?
  • Does the board invest in ensuring the board members are ready for their role and actively participate in governance?

How your board can demonstrate good governance

  1. You review the skills, knowledge and experience of the board regularly, and provide opportunities for training and development.
  2. You have a formal and transparent system for both the recruitment and removal of trustees in line with your governing document, and fixed terms of office for trustees.
  3. If you have members who nominate and elect trustees, you support the members to play an informed role in the democratic process.
  4. You recruit trustees beyond the usual networks to ensure diversity and make a positive effort to prevent obstacles to people becoming trustees, allocating a budget if necessary, to achieve this.
  5. You have a good induction process which includes meetings with other trustees, staff and volunteers, and a copy of your governing document. You provide a mentor for new board members.
  6. Your meetings are inclusive, a place where everyone feels it is safe to suggest, question and challenge ideas and address, rather than avoid, difficult topics.
  7. You discuss your board’s performance and ability to work together as a team, including individuals’ motivations and expectations about behaviour, so you can tackle ineffectiveness at both a collective and individual level.
  8. You involve stakeholders in shaping your work and decision making, designing services and developing strategy.
  9. You’re aware of changes in the external environment and how they will affect your work. You need to be adaptable and consider stopping some activities, starting others.
  10. You collectively seek independent, professional advice in areas such as governance, the law and finance, if needed.