Reach Volunteering, the organisation that connects charities and non-profits with skilled volunteers, has launched a new initiative to increase the digital expertise of charity trustee boards.
Working in collaboration with a number of partners, Reach will be supporting boards to recruit ‘digital trustees’ and maximise their ability to lead their charities through this digital age.
Through the campaign, Building boards in a digital age, Reach will work with voluntary, public and private sector partners to raise awareness of the importance of digital expertise at board level, promote resources and training, and support the recruitment of people with digital expertise to trustee boards.
The campaign’s key aims are to:
- Raise awareness amongst trustees of the strategic importance of digital.
- Increase the level of digital expertise on trustee boards by
– Promoting relevant resources and training
– Supporting boards to recruit ‘digital’ trustees.
- Raise awareness about the role of trustee amongst digital experts/organisations.
- Support digital experts to join boards by
– Connecting them with boards which are recruiting these skills
– Promoting relevant resources and training.
According to Reach, trustees need the capacity to understand both the potential and the risks of digital, and to incorporate this thinking into their governance, especially in developing strategy, overseeing its implementation and managing risk. There is growing concern that charities that do not embrace digital will find themselves becoming obsolete.
The organisation adds that lack of digital expertise at a leadership level has been identified as one of the key barriers to digital development. Trustee boards, in particular, tend to lack this expertise, and this is compounded by a tendency for boards to be very risk averse. Boards typically underestimate the importance of digital and so do not prioritise this expertise in board recruitment or development. Those boards which do have an appetite usually don’t have access to networks of people with these skills, and don’t know where to recruit them.
People from digital industries are often unaware of the benefits of becoming a trustee – the opportunity to make a significant difference to a cause they care about, and the professional development opportunities in leading and governing an organisation. There are also cultural differences to navigate: governance can seem slow paced, rigid and lacking innovation to someone from the digital world.
The importance of digital
Writing in a blog post about the launch of the new campaign, Janet Thorne, CEO of Reach Volunteering commented: “Every charity is operating in a digital world now. When you make decisions about any element of your operations, digital is a key component, whether you chose to embrace it or not. How you should store and organise your data, how best to communicate with beneficiaries, donors and funders, how you promote your services, how you deliver them, and how you measure their effectiveness – these are all digital questions.
“Many charities shy away from digital because they fear that they have insufficient expertise, and they worry that digital projects can be expensive, tricky and risky to implement. And they can be all those things.
“But the benefits can also be huge – greater reach, scalable services, efficiency savings, to name but a few. And the risk of ignoring digital is even greater – a slow but fatal slide into irrelevance or obscurity.”
How to get involved
If you are already thinking about recruiting, Reach is encouraging you to upload a role with them by 4 November so that you can take advantage of the big push this November. This will include promotion with key partners, a tailored search on your behalf by its TrusteeWorks team, and lots of social media promotion during Trustees’ Week (7 -13 November). And all of this is free!
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