Published: 13 September 2016

How to talk to your trustees about comms

While many charity board duties relate closely to core comms responsibilities, most trustees appear to have little understanding of the role and remit of communications.

Trustees are not generally interested in communications for its own sake. But tell them how it raises brand awareness or mitigates risk and they will sit up and listen. Remind them that their responsibilities include impact reporting, awareness-raising, accuracy of information, transparency and reputation management and you start to build a picture of how vital good communications is to good governance.

CharityComms’ latest Best Practice Guide, How to talk to your trustees about comms, aims to help comms people take steps to strengthen their board-level relationships and influence - and is free to download

Most parts of the trustee remit can benefit from engagement with comms. Yet one experienced comms consultant told CharityComms recently: “I don’t recall ever presenting to a trustees board meeting that had a director of comms on it, and the boards we come across rarely have comms experts among the trustees.” And many comms people have stories to tell of their struggles to gain access to trustee meetings.

The challenge is to pin down board concerns, demonstrate how communications can progress organisational goals, and find comms solutions to applicable problems.

For example, recent difficulties have left many charities, and the sector at large, nursing damaged reputations. Often risks – for example, over reserves, fundraising methods or commercial relationships – were not identified or were inadequately managed. Trustees, who carry the ultimate responsibility for the reputation of their charity, are now keener than ever to protect their own organisations from injury.

Good communications mitigates risk and strengthens reputations. So the argument for comms engagement at the highest level, and at every discussion about risk and reputation, could hardly be more compelling. 

By demonstrating value and solving problems for the organisation, communications has a new opportunity to win recognition and make a difference. How to talk to your trustees about comms will show you how. 

Whether you’re wanting to improve organisation-wide transparency, engage the board with your comms strategy, establish relationships at a strategic level or help your trustees get to grips with social media, How to talk to your trustees about comms can help. 

Learn how to speak the language of trustees and show how you can help solve board problems, get access to (and make the most of) board meetings, establish comms as the charity’s reputation manager, and much more. Download our free guide now.

Vicky Browning, director, CharityComms

A former magazine journalist, editor and publisher, Vicky has headed up the CharityComms team since March 2010. She is passionate about CharityComms' vision of putting effective and inspiring communications at the heart of every charity's work for a better world.