A Balanced Board: Developing A Board Skills Matrix

What’s a board skills matrix?

A board skills matrix can be a helpful part of the trustee recruitment process. It identifies the current skills and experience held by the charity trustees. At a consolidated level it identifies the gaps that need to be filled. This resource provides a board skills matrix template (see PDF above the Signposts section) which can be tailored for specific charities, as well as some guidelines for the related aspects of the trustee recruitment process.

 

Why do you need one?

Trustee boards need a wide variety of experience amongst their members. If recruitment is not done in an intentional way there can be several people with the same experience and significant gaps in other vital areas. Analysing current experience and skills enables a more targeted trustee recruitment campaign.

 

How do you go about it?

  1. A good starting point is for the board to have a discussion about the range of skills and experience required, well in advance of the next trustee recruitment cycle.

  2. From the discussion a list of skills and experience can be drawn up and included in a board skills matrix. A sample template is included below which includes generic skills that most charities need. The charity will need to add additional items relevant to their areas of activity and programmes. Examples might include: social housing, drugs education, theological education, publishing, local church ministry, overseas mission or relief experience, evangelism, use of social media, online security.

  3. A copy of the matrix is sent to each board member for them to complete and return.

  4. A summary table is consolidated to show everyone’s experience. This will identify areas where there is already plenty of experience and where the obvious gaps are that need to be filled. This can be done using a blank copy of the matrix and marking the relevant box for each answer received.

  5. The chair (or the nominations committee where one exists) may choose to review the results before sharing with the full board. Board agreement can then be reached on the profile of people needed to fill vacancies and a recruitment campaign can commence.

  6. The recruitment campaign may include advertising and personal approaches to known people. Prospective candidates may be invited for a conversation with one or two trustees, ideally including the chair. Where there is mutual agreement to explore further it can be helpful to invite candidates to attend a board meeting as an observer. During the process information should be provided on:

  • The role of board members in the charity

  • Particular skills and experience that is being sought.

NB. There is significantly more involved in finding and appointing new trustees. For a comprehensive explanation see UK Charity Commission CC30 “Finding new trustees”, details under Signposts (below).

 

When should a board skills matrix be done or updated?

  • When a board skills matrix doesn’t yet exist, so is being compiled for the first time.

  • Thereafter ask all new trustees to complete as part of their recruitment or induction process and update the consolidated copy for joiners and leavers.

  • Ask board members to check their entry every 3 years or every time they are reappointed.

 

The PDF is a sample board skills matrix which you can download and adapt for your own requirements

 

 

 

 

Signposts

 

Further Signposts in New Zealand

 

Further Signposts in UK

 

Author & copyright Helen Calder 2018

Peer reviewed by Janet Tuck