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Supporting Scotland's vibrant voluntary sector

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the membership organisation for Scotland's charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. Charity registered in Scotland SC003558. Registered office Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh EH3 6BB.

The benefits of having trustees with lived experience on boards

SCVO is focussing on board recruitment and diversity during Trustees’ Week 2021. The Good Governance webinar on Wednesday 3 November will explore the benefits of having trustees on your board with experience of the issues your charity works on.

Boards need a variety of attitudes, skills and experience to avoid group think and ensure good governance. When many trustees are far from the world experienced by beneficiaries, it can be difficult to make informed decisions. Whilst there may be barriers and adjustments to be made to effect real change, by actively recruiting trustees with lived experience on your board you can ensure:

  • Greater accountability, legitimacy and credibility to your community and wider society
  • Insight into the needs and challenges you’re hoping to tackle
  • New perspectives and informed voices to bring richness and reality to board discussions and ensure better decision making
  • Opportunities for people to learn, grow and develop their knowledge and experience of governance that can be applied elsewhere in the future

I’m part of the governance team at the Centre for Charity Effectiveness, Bayes Business School (formerly Cass), and we’ve done some work pulling together a range of resources about lived experience on charity boards, so I was delighted to be asked to lead this SCVO exploration.  Thinking is in its infancy, so I am keen to hear ideas that people have about challenges, different approaches and share our learning.

Our interest in the topic stems from the governance work we do with charities – an increasing number of clients asked us to help support them to develop their thinking and attract and recruit trustees with lived experience of their cause. We decided that as there is (was!) very little material available, and what existed was scattered across websites and in books, that we needed to build an accessible resource. We got together a group of charities who were at different stages on their journey, we added in some of our experience and research on the topic and produced this web based resource. We are adding to it each month as thinking and learning develops, and as people send us their case studies and stories.

If you are interested in exploring more, do come along to the webinar to look at the benefits of having trustees with lived experience of the cause. We will examine the barriers and challenges; and share what has worked and how to avoid tokenism and tick boxing. You can be part of a network of people interested in trailblazing and learning together. There will be a bit of input from me and you will hear from Scottish charities already proactively recruiting trustees with lived experience on their boards.

Last modified on 28 September 2021