Training for a new Board of Trustees
West Berkshire Training Consortium
“The service we received from Action Planning was efficient, clear and very responsive. Felicia was brilliant. I was hanging off her every word. I was new to the role as well and the way she delivered it was really clear, concise, informative, interesting, engaging, and really well managed and delivered.”
Claire Richards, Interim Executive Director, WBTC
West Berkshire Training Consortium (WBTC) is a charity that provides high quality apprenticeships and training to organisations and young people across West Berkshire and beyond. It has trained more than 15,000 apprentices in a wide range of occupations, from business administration to warehousing.
Following a major refresh of the Trustee Board, the Chair and Managing Director were keen to ensure all Trustees were well informed about their role and responsibilities, and the practical realities of being a Trustee for the charity. We had worked with WBTC previously on a number of tasks and they asked us back to carry out Trustee training. We assigned the job to experienced governance and organisational effectiveness consultant Felicia Willow.
WBTC asked us for help with training the new Board up on the roles, responsibilities and duties of charity Trustees, as well as their role and the practical realities of areas such as non-delegable duties, strategic planning, risk management, financial oversight, good governance and the relationship between the Board and Interim Executive Director and within the Board itself.
Prior to the training, we had supported WBTC with a range of other services, including a governance and strategy away day, interim management support and the recruitment of seven new Trustees. Felicia had been closely involved in the recruitment process so she was able to ensure the training design met the range of needs and current understanding of each member of the Board.
She then designed and delivered a training programme that covered the essential information all Trustees have to know, with activities and discussions to help them understand how charity rules and best practice guidance work in the real world.
One of the benefits of holding the workshop online was the ability to be flexible about the number of attendees. All the partners were able to attend from their bases in Africa, India and Nepal, and they were able to bring colleagues with specific finance responsibilities.
For the three follow-up sessions, Sean was able to draft in two other Action Planning associates to join him in answering questions and sharing their knowledge and expertise. This inclusion of different voices added an engaging dynamic to the sessions.
The Trustees enjoyed the half day training and came away with a much stronger understanding of their roles and responsibilities, as well as a good understanding of the potential risks that often impact charities when problems in good governance arise. They also had the opportunity to get to know each other and their new Interim Executive Director, Claire Richards, better, and to begin the process of building themselves up as an effective team.
“It was really good to go through all the charitable objectives and to revisit what all of that meant,” says Claire. It was a very positive and informative session, which gave very clear guidelines as to what was expected and helped to form relationships. They all found it very, very useful and quite enlightening.”
Consultant’s insight:All Trustees need training – even those who have been on Boards for many years. Rules and guidance change and it can be easy to lose sight of what it is like on the other side of the table. Across the sector, confusion around Trustee roles is one of the top causes of conflict and crisis in charities, so a good Trustee is always learning.
Everyone turned up to the day with an open mind and a willingness to learn – and had a laugh along the way. As a trainer who has sat on both sides of the charity Board table, it was great to see how keen everyone was to ask questions and to hear some of the many stories about governance gone wrong – and how to avoid it!