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Transforming a charity board

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

Chief Executive Tim Archbold relates his journey to reset Signposts's board culture and diversify the board

‘I became chief exec of Signposts in 2020 after being with the charity for five years in a different role. The outgoing CEO had been with the charity for 29 years so it was a good point to ring in changes.

When it came to finding new trustees, the previous chief exec had always been designated to find them himself. A lot of those appointments came from a single source – the local Rotary club of which he was a member and with which he and some of the founder trustees had strong affiliations.

Increasing board diversity

I knew we needed to be more diverse. The board needed additional skills and people who were representative of the community: different races, different ages, people with disabilities and with lived experience of the services we provide.

I also wanted my role as CEO to be more accountable to the board and to work with them on decision making rather than me telling them what I was going to do.

Discovering the Transform programme

I found out about the Transform programme while on an antiracism course. I went on the info webinar and it ticked all the boxes that I knew our charity needed. Plus it was affordable. All in all it was a good idea so I decided to go for it.

I had to get the buy-in of the board to proceed. And after some initial resistance a couple of trustees helped me to convince the rest of the board. It actually happened very quickly – two weeks later we were enrolled.

Transform has been really successful for us. It has done what the name states – it has transformed our board.

Transform has given us our own recruitment process. We have a tried and tested way of interviewing now. We created an interview panel which is always ready to go when we need it.

Also we’ve started doing regular skills audits so we can fill the knowledge gaps rather than recruiting people the chair liked.

How to word an ad was something important that we learned on Transform and a real eye opener for us was where to place an ad.

Appointing new trustees

We’ve successfully appointed two new trustees and we have another potential trustee ready to appoint. They are bringing strong skills we were previously lacking particularly from a governance background.

Two of our new trustees are people of colour and one of our new trustees has had lived experience that is relevant to the services we provide. All the existing trustees were very happy with the selection. Signposts funded their place on the Getting on Board Charity Board Leadership Programme which proved very useful.

Both the new trustees are part of the five year strategic plan working committee. They are bringing a new energy. They have questioned the function of our newest centre and made some suggestions on how it can be put to better use. It’s taught me a valuable lesson. I need a board that will challenge me, work with me, and guide me, not just look to agree with my job title.

That’s how we will be more successful as a charity.’

Are you a CEO or a trustee? Find out how you can transform your board with our Transform programme.


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