Five hot picks for Bates Wells/NCVO Trustee Conference 2019

Long before I started working for NCVO, I would attend the NCVO/Bates Wells Trustee Conference as a trustee and delegate.

At the time of my first conference, I was a trustee of a community centre. I remember how useful I found the event. The updates on the latest developments enabled me to report back to my own board and ensure our compliance with new regulation. For me, the event was a safe space to be creative and think differently in a way which wouldn’t have always been possible on my board.

I recall how positive it felt to have a dedicated space to discuss challenges and debate ideas on good governance with colleagues and experts. By far my greatest take away from attending the conference were the connections I made with other trustees, who were facing similar challenges and issues to me. Years on, I’m still connected with some of these people and sometimes we still pick up the phone to each other to talk through issues.

Fast forward to today, I work for NCVO. I still look forward to the Trustee Conference for all the same reasons. Below I have selected my top picks for this year’s workshops at the conference:

Purpose, power and participation: Developing the right strategy process for your charity

For me nothing is more exciting than developing a new strategy. Charity trustees are invested with the power and responsibility to set strategy. Far from being an operational matter, your organisational strategy – a shared vision, clear plan, and deep understanding of impact – is a crucial aspect of the work of all boards. This session will hear from a range of organisations on how they developed their strategies and help you to think through your own strategy process.

What every trustee needs to know: An introduction and update on trustee responsibilities

If you’re a new trustee, this session is perfect for you. It offers trustees an induction and update on their duties, explores current challenges facing boards and draws on NCVO almanac data to offer a strong introduction to the sector. We run a session similar to this most years and consistently delegates tell us how useful and informative they find it. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a little biased here as I’m organising this session, but I’ll also be joined by an expert lawyer firm Bates Wells and fellow NCVO consultant.

Perfectly matched: Essential ingredients for an impactful chair and CEO relationship

The chair and chief executive of an organisation need to support, consult, and complement each other. Personalities change but the positions remain. For a successful relationship, each partner needs to adapt to and cultivate the working relationship. This partnership between the chair and the chief executive needs constant attention. This session explores the importance of that relationship, the constructive challenge and asks what processes and behaviours can underpin an effective ‘perfectly matched’ relationship.

Asking the right questions: An introduction to charity finance for trustees

Ok, so maybe you’re reading this, and you think this isn’t the sexiest of topics… but hear me out… it’s so important! Understanding the numbers are critical to being an effective trustee, and being able to read accounts is not enough. As a trustee you also need to have the confidence to ask the right questions. I have been a trustee for most of the last decade and I’m not naturally someone who’s in the comfort zone when scrutinising finances. I know how it feels and that’s why this practical breakout session has to be a topic pick. It will help you understand the financial responsibilities of being a trustee and how these connect with your wider governance role.

Getting things right: The importance of values and ethics

All charities should proactively champion ethical behaviour and reflect and apply their charitable values in any activity they undertake, in addition to meeting their legal and regulatory requirements. This session will explore the importance of values and ethics at a time when the sector has come under increased scrutiny to demonstrate its commitment and integrity in these areas.

Dan Francis is NCVO’s Lead consultant for governance. For more regular updates follow @mynameisdanfran or @NCVO on Twitter.

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Dan Francis Dan is responsible for NCVO’s governance consultancy offer, focusing on governance reviews, board performance and trustee training. He joined NCVO from the National Union of Students (NUS) where, as a long standing consultant, he supported the organisational development of local students’ unions as charities.

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