#TrusteeWeek Top 5 Countdown – No. 2

12 November 19

It’s the Gallanach #TrusteeWeek top 5 countdown time.

Coming in at no.2 on the activities charity boards could do better is…

High Support/High Challenge

Too many charity boards don’t get the right balance between supporting and challenging the management team. All too frequently, they emphasise the support and back off on the challenge.

I’m often surprised when trustees who are senior managers in the commercial world take a much softer approach at their charity boards. Perhaps, they feel the culture at a charity board doesn’t work with the same level of challenge they bring to their day jobs. Maybe the cultures are different and the language and tone of challenge should be different. But the challenge is still required.

When support is high and challenge low, discussions will inevitably be shallow and risk missing underlying problems. The culture can become too cosy. There are too many examples of charities that found themselves in difficulty through lack of challenge from the board.

If you’re a trustee who’s holding back from asking the awkward questions because no one else is, then start asking now. It’s just what your board needs.


Norman’s pragmatism and no-nonsense approach has kept the Charity going long enough to ensure the multi-million pound asset we have, can be used for the purposes it was designed for.

We went through some difficult times but with Norman’s insight and support we secured a merger and the future now looks much more positive.

Steven Clarke, Chair, Smile Support and Care