This month the Charity Commission, in partnership with a number of trustee groups and charities organised the fourth annual Trustee week.  Trustees Week is a celebration of trusteeship, to highlight the great work that trustees do, and to draw attention to the opportunities for people from all walks of life to get involved and make a real difference.

Here’s our round up of some of the best bits of information and some practical advice for boards of any size:

In 2013 there are just over 180,000 charities in England and Wales registered with the Charity Commission, represented by around 1,000,000 trustees. Estimates suggest that almost half of charities have at least one vacancy on their board.

When bringing a new person onto the board, have an induction – make sure that your new trustee understands their role and its responsibilities right from the very beginning. This doesn’t need to be overly complex; on the contrary a straight forward set of guidelines that everyone follows helps to unify the board and ensure everyone is making decisions for the right reasons and pulling in the same direction.

The Government has set itself the goal that women will make up 50% of all new appointments to public boards by the end of the current Parliament (2015). Women make up over two thirds of the workforce in UK Charities but are represented at board level in 1 in 3 trustee roles.  There is a way to go but we’re really pleased at this effort to encourage more equal representation at board level. The Charity Commission will be monitoring the recruitment of new trustees to help make sure this happens.

Finally, it is really important in developing your charity to regularly assess the effectiveness of trustees. After all, if targets aren’t being met it is the trustees who are ultimately accountable. Try to reflect at least once a year on how things are going and whether you have the right skills available to keep moving forward. If you’re not sure where to start, Fundraising Central are developing a ‘Trustee Toolkit’ available from January 2014 for small charities or we can provide a range of support services to make sure you’re getting the most out of what you have.