Chairs of not-for-profit organisations are often the Cinderellas of our sector, yet they play a critical part in the success (or failure) of the 160,000 registered charities and countless more voluntary and community groups.
Chairs of boards lead their trustee colleagues, steer the development of the long term strategy and may also be central to appointing key senior staff. Despite this, there is currently no single organisation for Chairs, nor is there a one-stop source where these leaders can find information, support and inspiration.
Most governance support is aimed at trustees in general rather than tailored for Chairs. There are some specific offerings for Chairs e.g. by ACEVO and by solicitors and accountants. There have also been some short-lived initiatives for example from the Governance Hub but these have not been sustained.
The result is that resources for Chairs are patchy, lack coherence and are sometimes difficult to find. They tend to be focused on imparting information rather than building and exchanging experience and developing peer support. Nor do they give a voice to Chairs.
We believe this is a substantial omission that needs to be addressed which is why in 2012 the founding trustees got together and started planning.