A new organisation was launched last night to champion the role of trustee board chairs and help build their effectiveness.
Founding chair of the Association of Chairs, John Gladwin who is also chair of Citizens Advice, told a sector audience in London that the group had been established to invest in the development of charity chairs. “We want to learn about what works and what doesn’t work,” he said.
Gladwin spoke about a lack of research available on what makes chairs effective in the role. He said that one of the priorities for the new Association will be to create and disseminate new knowledge through research and information exchange. One early aspiration was to produce a guide for chairs “in the next few months”.
Another founding board member of the Association is Alice Maynard, chair of Scope. She recalled how, on taking up the role at Scope in 2008, she had “felt a need to grow both personally and professionally”. She had desperately sought the form of support the Association was now intent on providing, but had not been able to find it anywhere.
This is the right time to be launching such a group, she said: “The people and organisations we support deserve chairs who know what they’re doing, and who can maximise the difference their organisations make for those they are there to serve.” In due course, said Maynard, the Association will consider the development of standards for chairs across the sector.
The Association of Chairs has been registered as a charity by the Charity Commission. Membership is open to chairs of all not-for-profits with a social purpose, with a nominal membership fee for small organisations, rising to £750 per annum for a charity with an income over £10m.
The other founding trustees are governance adviser Ruth Lesirge, Rosalind Oakley, chair of Charities Evaluation Services, and Jane Smith, director of resources at IPPR.