Trustees are the people who have overall responsibility for the organisation and are the equivalent of Directors in a Commercial organisation.
In an organisation like Signpost, we employ a Chief Executive Officer and delegate responsibility for the day-to-day operation to him.
The role of the Trustees is to oversee all aspects of this operation and ensure that the role and purpose of the organisation as laid out in the Constitution is carried out..
This means that in practice the Trustees:
- Set the direction and purpose of the organisation (the strategy).
- Oversee the performance of the CEO and his team to ensure the strategy is being properly implemented.
- Oversee the finances of the organisation and agree budgets which are designed to achieve the objectives and ensure that funds are spent for the purpose they were given.
- Agree policies for all aspects of operation. This will include working practices, including interaction with clients and staff and their employment policies and salary levels.
- Agree and sign off contracts including commissions, leases, employment contracts and equipment contracts where appropriate.
- Provide support for the CEO and the Signpost team in their work.
Leadership style at Signpost is facilitative so it is important for the Trustees to be part of the team and support the staff. From time to time, they need to be hands on in actives like representing the organisation, motivating staff, fund raising activities and helping with organisation development.
This is an influential role and carries responsibilities. They are described here. In Signpost’s case we are both a Charity and a Company Limited by Guarantee. This means that although the Trustees have overall responsibility to ensure that all the obligations of the organisation are met their personal responsibility is limited to just £1. Signpost also holds public liability insurance which covers the liabilities of Trustees.
The Trustee role is voluntary and there is no payment, apart from the satisfaction of having helped people who need it the most. However, reasonable out of pocket expenses like travel costs are reimbursed.
We anticipate that Trustees will commit at least half a day each month to Signpost and sometimes a few days more when needed. The Trustee body meets each month, usually for a 2 to 3 hours session, currently these meetings are held on weekday mornings, but this is flexible if the need arises.
You can help by bringing expertise to the Board. This may include experience of the use of Signpost and similar services, expertise in management, the charity world, accounting, law, staff management or fund raising and public relations to name just a few. It’s also good to have a diverse body with a mix of gender and ethnic backgrounds.
Certain groups of people are excluded from being trustees. This includes those under 18, those with some criminal records undischarged bankrupts and people who have been barred from being Trustees and Directors of Companies. It is also inappropriate for Trustees to have a conflict of interest.
Contact me via the email below to begin a discussion to explore whether Trusteeship is right for you. Please ensure the words ‘Signpost Trusteeship’ are in the Subject line.
Fred Heddell CBE (Chair Signpost)