The theme of this year’s Trustee Week encourages us to celebrate the value and benefits of collaborative work. When a Board of Trustees works well together, they can epitomise this theme beautifully by demonstrating the strengths of working in partnership with their senior leadership team and organisational staff to support a charity to succeed in its mission.
Agenda embodies this concept at the heart of its organisational strategy by convening an alliance, of more than 100 member organisations from across the voluntary sector, to work together, to drive meaningful systemic change, and to advocate for the needs of the people they support.
Many of our members are organisations that actively seek to elevate the under-represented voices and experiences of women, girls and minoritised groups. Championing this work is central to Agenda’s aim to convene an empowered and cohesive alliance that can influence wider policy and practice.
However, this work can only be progressed if member organisations are effectively supported to engage in meaningful and manageable ways. To that end, understanding and evaluating how we are working with our members is key to ensuring that Agenda Alliance can achieve this aim. We discussed this in detail during our most recent Board meeting and enjoyed a lively brainstorming session that helped to yield some useful ideas and considerations.
Agenda Alliance members include large national organisations as well as small grass root specialist charities, so recognising and understanding the differing capacity and resource of each member organisation is crucial to supporting their continued involvement.
‘Many voices’ equate to many differing priorities and perspectives, so valuing each and taking proactive steps to increase representation and elevate these voices is critical to the success of the alliance.
Similarly, inviting regular feedback and direct input from members can be hugely valuable. Agenda is currently conducting a members’ survey to gather this kind of feedback. We hope the survey responses will enhance our organisational understanding of how best to centre and involve members in our wider work; the end goal being, we will be better able to work together, with purpose.
Including ‘many voices’ on a board of trustees also helps to strengthen and reinforce a governance structure based on principles of inclusion, collaboration and respect. At Agenda, we are very lucky to have a diverse and dedicated board that embodies the organisation’s values of being courageous, credible and collaborative. As a relatively new trustee, I remind myself of this regularly, and have found it hugely valuable to learn from the more seasoned, experienced trustees who have supported Agenda Alliance to where it is today.
As a trustee, I enjoy a privileged position of being able to help nurture and support the development of strategic ideas during board meetings. And when a CEO and staff team are so open and committed to working closely with their board, and drawing from the individual strengths and skills of each board member, being a trustee is an incredibly rewarding role.