Best Year Yet for Charity Board Volunteering
There has been a surge of interest in people volunteering to become trustees on the boards of Irish charities, according to Boardmatch Ireland, the only Irish charity that specialises in not-for-profit board recruitment. Boardmatch has seen a 50% year on year increase in applications for Board roles since March and had over 1,100 new candidates register, with more charities than ever registering Board vacancies on Boardmatch’s free matching website. Since its inception 15 years ago, the organisation has successfully placed over 2,800 individuals in essential roles as Trustees of charity boards.
The charity and not-for-profit sector play a crucial role in Ireland, providing a wide range of services in areas such as healthcare, education and social support, in many cases supporting the most vulnerable in society. There are over 10,000 charities registered in Ireland, many delivering Exchequer money to support those in need of these services and the impact of the charity sector has been valued at over €24 billion (CRA, 2018 Indecon Economic Impact report).
Minister Heather Humphries, Department of Rural and Community Development, said, “I am delighted, through my Department’s Scheme to Support and Strengthen Volunteering, to provide year on year funding to support Boardmatch. 15 years is a great achievement for Boardmatch, and the recent challenges that COVID-19 has brought to the sector have shown just how resilient our volunteers and volunteer organisations are. I would encourage you all to contact Boardmatch if you are interested in volunteering your skills or if your organisation has a board vacancy to be filled. I would like to wish you all in Boardmatch a very happy birthday, enjoy the week and keep safe and well.”
“Volunteering for a Trustee role on a charity board is a great way to give back to your community and benefits both the individual and the charity,” explains Gaby Murphy, Interim CEO of Boardmatch Ireland. “We have heard repeatedly from organisations what huge value trustees bring to an organisation and how board leadership is strengthened by having a wide mix of skills and experience. Equally rewarding is the personal experience for those who volunteer as it can be a great way to build new skills, develop new networks and gain experience of operating at a strategic level in an organisation.”
“Remote working and attending board meetings online have opened up opportunities to a wider spread of candidates from a location point of view, but also the time commitment to attend meetings online is seen as more manageable for would-be Board volunteers,” commented Hannah Coleman, who manages Boardmatch’s free on line matching service.
Ian Quinn joined the Board of Newgrove Housing Association in March this year, “On the day of my interview the initial wave of restrictions in relation to COVID-19 were announced. As events transpired my first Board meeting was held remotely without having first met some of my fellow Board members. In this crisis, it has been amazing to see the community spirit that has emerged in many different ways. As a Board member of a voluntary organisation you are donating your time and experience to lead the sustainable and strategic direction of that organisation.”
The recent introduction of the Governance Code has brought renewed focus on governance, accountability and the role of charity boards. Registered charities must be compliant with the code by the end of this year and Boardmatch are playing an important role in ensuring that charity Boards have the best mix of skills to ensure they are compliant with all regulations issued by the Charity Regulator. “In addition to our free online board-matching service, we support all those who join boards with online training on the role of trustees and their governance responsibilities and our training is CPD approved,” commented Murphy.
It is not just charity board trustees with a professional background, such as lawyers and accountants, whose skills are in demand. Charity boards need people of all different ages and backgrounds. “Our youngest board member this year so far has been 19 and the oldest, 74, so you are never too old or too young to serve on a charity Board”, Murphy added. “The average age of a Boardmatch appointed trustee this year has been 44, with volunteers from all walks of life, bringing different experiences and knowledge to the charities. Over the past year, there were 19 different areas of not-for-profits including housing, children & families, environment, addiction and counselling, health, sport, arts and culture and youth which utilised Boardmatch Ireland’s services.”