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#56 Transforming nonprofit Boards, Penny Wilson CEO of Getting on Board

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Penny Wilson joined Purposely Podcast to share her story as CEO of Getting On Board a non-profit focused on supporting people from all sectors of society to become charity board trustees, and charities to recruit and retain a diverse range of trustees. Tell me about Getting On Board, what’s its mission? ‘Getting On Board is a really small charity based in Britain working to increase the accessibility and diversity of trustee non-profit boards… which are currently positively ‘victorian’ in their composition right across the sector. Two thirds of trustees are male, two thirds are over 50, 92% white and three quarters of trustees are from households above the national median household income. So as a body, our trustees are wealthier, ‘maler’, whiter, older than wider society and then we've got lots and lots of gaps for example… lived experience, so lived experience of the thing that a particular charity is seeking to tackle and Getting On Board works on that… important work that impacts on every single charity. ‘ Trustees perform vital and important roles right? ‘Charity board members are the most senior leaders in our charities and unfortunately not enough care and attention is given to how we recruit trustees or thought put into who goes onto a board. In fact the most common way of becoming a trustee in the UK is to be asked to be one, however, this does not necessarily ensure the right people are recruited and it does not match how we recruit our employees. In comparison if we need an employee with certain skills we advertise for the person that matches that requirement we don’t just ask friends, family members ex colleagues etc. We need to start doing this when recruiting trustees especially when you consider the level of responsibility they have’ How did the Getting On Board get started? ‘It was started in 2004, by Sarah Hodgkinson who sadly died a couple of years ago. At the time Sarah held a senior role in a big corporate and she recognized that there wasn't an easy path for senior professionals to step into charity board roles and she wanted to do something about it. I’m the CEO and I've been here for five years.  I had met Sarah a few times and heard her talking about trusteeship and I thought that sounds absolutely brilliant. I want a piece of that. So that’s how my voluntary trusteeship career took off and it also led me to taking this role with Getting On Board.’ How is the charity set-up? ‘The first thing to say is that we are microscopically small with an annual income of just over 70,000 pounds but it is fair to say that we really punch above our weight and people are always really shocked when they find out how small we are both in terms of income and the size of the team. We've got three part time core team members. However, we've got like a really wide community of people who just think what we do is important and support us in lots of ways by amplifying our message.’ A core part of what you do is training? What else do you do? ‘We work on both sides of the trustee thing, so we work with people who are potential trustees and then we work with charity leaders who want to know about diversifying their boards and about recruiting trustees professionally, we do this by providing free guidance. That said we primarily focus on training people in what it means to be a trustee, to serve as an effective trustee as well as how to find a role. On the other side of the coin we advise and train charities on how to diversify their boards and how to recruit trustees. It’s fair to say that most charities trustees have to be hands on because there is nobody else to do the work although the medium to larger organisations that have staff again can take more of a governance only approach’ --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/mark-longbottom2/message

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