On this page:
- What is a skills audit?
- When to do a skills audit
- What an audit should cover
- How to do a skills audit (includes skills audit template)
- What next?
An effective charity board has trustees with a good range of skills and qualities, and a variety of professional and personal experience. The ideal mix will depend on the nature of the charity, but having a diverse board – where trustees have different experiences and perspectives – will help to ensure the board will make well-rounded decisions.
A skills audit is a useful tool for mapping out the skills and expertise of trustees to see if you have the right mix and to identify any gaps in the board’s overall skills. It will also help you see how you may be affected if a trustee leaves or your charity faces any new challenges.
The most common time to do a skills audit is when you are recruiting new trustees. However, skills audits should be done regularly – at least annually – because your trustees’ skills and experience will change, and you will be able to respond more quickly when you need new trustees if you already have an up-to-date skills register.
Your board needs the expertise to:
- exercise overall control of the organisation’s current business operations
- manage the charity’s resources responsibly
- set the strategy and oversee its implementation
- ensure that the needs of your organisation’s beneficiaries are put first
- keep the charity true to its purpose.
Skills audits are good for reflecting on the functional skills that your board needs. They can also focus on other aspects of your board, such as diversity. Does your board reflect the community that you serve in terms of gender, age, ethnicity, disability, lived experience and/or class? Is there a role for service users on your board?
You can do a skills audit in various ways. You could ask each trustee to complete a printed or online audit and then you could collate the results. Alternatively, the chair could complete the audit as part of an annual face-to-face appraisal with each trustee. Or you could ask an external advisor to undertake an audit.
We have a skills audit template (doc) that you can use or adapt for your charity.
Once you identify the need for a new skill/trustee on you board, you could join Reach, post an opportunity and search for trustees (volunteers). You might also find out guide to recruiting and retaining trustees useful.