Trustees’ Week: Why Our Trustees Matter and What They Really Do in the World of Governance

As a charity, our vision is that everyone living with dementia in Kent gets the support they need to live the life they want. But how can ADSS support as many people living with dementia as possible? That is the question we are currently asking our Board of Trustees to consider. And it is a difficult one to answer.

It was wonderful to see such a packed room at last week’s AGM in Gravesend. It really is remarkable how far we’ve come already and how much we’ve grown over the past few years. But – as our Treasurer Catherine Jones said – it also feels like we’re only just getting started.

Not only did the event give us an opportunity to reflect on the enormous progress ADSS has made – and hear some wonderful stories (and songs!) from the people we support – it also afforded us a moment to look to the future, consider where we want to be, and how we might get there.

As most people in the charity know, the growth we have achieved in recent years has brought with it significant challenges. For example, on the people side at the moment – as many organisations are – we are having issues around recruitment and retention, and the cost of living crisis. On fundraising and marketing, meanwhile, we want to build on the great work the team has already done. We want to increase our reach and brand profile, and raise more funds, so that we can be an employer of choice and also to support further growth.

I think it’s fair to say that the Board and the Senior Leadership Team are incredibly ambitious for ADSS. We want to continue growing so we can support as many people living with dementia as possible, and to do this, we realise we need to professionalize further, be more commercially-minded and address the challenges we have in these areas, and others.

Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts. It will take time, commitment and money to do everything we want to!

Fortunately, as Trustees, we are better placed than ever to support ADSS. It’s remarkable to think that just a few years ago we had only four Trustees – and we now number 10.

Good governance is crucial to the effective running of charities. The Board plays a vital role in the effective and responsible management of ADSS, carrying the weight of various responsibilities including setting strategic direction and decision-making, accountability and transparency, financial best practice, ethical standards, legal compliance, and more.

But ultimately, my view is that these areas should be a given – essentials tasks that we undertake on an ongoing bas

is and that are therefore ever present in our minds. Now, with our larger Board and much wider range of skills and experience, I believe we have an opportunity to support ADSS more closely in the areas where it needs it most.

As I mentioned at our AGM, we are in the process setting up Working Groups across People, Fundraising and Brand to develop strategies to help us meet our challenges and identify new growth opportunities. These groups will be made up of Trustees, Senior Leadership Team members and other staff members.

Our intention is to enable Trustees to fully exploit their skills and experience gained across multiple different industries to help us develop clear, targeted strategies for ADSS in specific areas – rather than being limited to contributing once a month at our Board and Committee meetings. The groups will also allow Trustees to gain a deeper insight into the day-to-day workings of the charity, as well as increase the involvement of ADSS staff in discussions at a senior level, building their experience and knowledge.

While there are no shortcuts, I am confident that by ensuring we get the most out of our Trustees in this way, we will maximise our chances of achieving everything we want to, and supporting as many people as we possibly can, over the coming years.

Sam Barton, Chair of Trustees

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