*Update: check out the results of this piece of work through our Get Wired report*
Trusteeship is a word which conjures up stale, pale and male images of governance, legal and regulatory updates, compliance and risk analysis. But actually, having served a trustee for over 10 years, firstly for Genesis Housing Group, then for Do-it.org and now for the MS Society, I can assure you that the role is anything but.
The 2- 8th of Nov sees the return of the NCVO trustee week and their annual conference. The agenda is full of governance, legal and regulatory updates, compliance and risk analysis. In the wake of Kids Company, all important stuff granted but the agenda appears to completely miss out the really important conversations: how do you get a board ready for the future? How can a board lead an organisation so that it remains relevant to the next generation of supporters and users? How can a board navigate and govern decisions around data, web spend and social media? Where can a board helpfully direct investment for the best impact in emerging technology products?
A lack of brave leadership
In May this year, a report entitled The New Reality, claimed that ‘a lack of brave leadership” from chief executives and trustees is holding the sector back from exploiting digital technologies for social impact. No truer word has been spoken. In my experience most board members don’t know the difference between Facebook and Instagram or platform based marketing and software as a service. Individually this is not a problem but collectively this creates a real barrier to getting a competitive edge, fulfilling a charity’s mission and more crucially being relevant to the 21st century. I see the operational impact of this all the time in my work with charities and I compare it to the visionary, switched on and skillful mindsets of the tech sector and I despair about the ever increasing gap between the two.
The dearth of digital skills on boards means we are leaving our next generation behind
Understanding how young people use and engage with technology and realising the potential for new technologies and social media in fundraising, operations, communications and campaigning, are just some of the considerations that Boards of Trustees need to get to grips with in order to create the charities of tomorrow, today.
We need better technology skills on boards to bridge the tech divide.
Simply put we – the charity sector, need better technology skills and understanding on boards. It is the only way our charities will survive and thrive in the next 10 years. However most of the tech and digital leaders who have a lot of offer the charity sector are put off by all of the above, or are completely ignorant of how much they are in demand.
Conferences aren’t going to fix this – we need action, not broadcasting.
Born out of this frustration of lack of tech understanding on boards, and a lack of boards finding the visionary passionate digital/tech people to help them get there, Peridot Partners and the Social Change Agency and Balderton Capital have collaborated to bring you the first unofficial fringe event to the NCVO Trustee Week: GetWIRED.
On the 4th of Nov. we will to bring together charity chairs and trustees with those who are at the leading edge of modern technology and who crucially understand its potential for charities. Specifically using unconference methods, we are going to explore the barriers and the potential for change for good trusteeship and digital skills. This is a completely free event, but we are only going to work with those who have the potential to build digital capacity and modern leadership in the charity sector and have a positive impact on society.