Jennifer Horan, Managing Consultant for our Board Practice, is sharing advice for Trustee candidates on crafting a compelling supporting statement to showcase your passion, skills, and commitment to making a difference.

Jennifer has been leading board appointments for Peridot since 2018. Over this time, she has guided hundreds of individuals to secure impactful positions on charity boards. In her experience, the supporting statement is often the most crucial element in setting candidates apart.

A Trustee supporting statement outlines the candidate’s motivation for applying and their professional and/or lived experience that demonstrates what they bring to the role and provides details on how they would contribute to the charity’s success as a Trustee. A good supporting statement shows you understand the organisation and have the experience, commitment and motivation required for the role.

Your supporting statement doesn’t have to be in a written format – Jennifer works with clients to reassess traditional recruitment processes to ensure they are inclusive. Inclusive practices allow people to express themselves in different ways. For instance, a candidate might prefer recording their supporting statement rather than writing one. Embracing these differences enhances the inclusivity of the recruitment process.

Below are Jennifer’s top tips for writing or filming your supporting statement.

Understand the organisation.

Before putting pen to paper or uttering “lights, camera, action!” and filming your supporting statement, take the time to understand the charity’s mission, values, and goals.

Three key questions can help you consider this:

  • Why do you want to join this particular organisation, when there are 10000s of charities you could join?
  • What motivates you to provide your skills and experience on a voluntary basis?
  • What skills and experiences can you bring to the board that would add value?

Most charities publish their strategic goals on their website. Tailoring your statement to these goals demonstrates a genuine interest and connection to the cause.

Communicating your interest is one of the most important areas to take your time on.

Read our interview with Henry Gregg, Trustee at Gingerbread UK, for more insight on the importance of being personally connected to the organisation.

Showcase your passion.

Begin your supporting statement with a captivating opening that reflects your passion for the cause.

You can share a personal anecdote or experience that has inspired you to get involved. This sets a positive tone and immediately engages your audience. Use the reflection and research you have done and showcase it!

Highlight relevant skills and expertise.

Use the person specification to highlight and outline your skills and experience. Take time to relate this to the organisation’s context and strategy. Remember the conversations you have had with either the organisation or the consultant and reflect back on where you know the challenges and opportunities are and how you might be able to support them.

Trustees are often sought for specific competencies such as financial acumen, legal expertise, HR, strategic planning, digital, marketing, or other relevant skills. Back your claims with specific examples from your professional or personal experience.

Remember, the people reading or watching your supporting statement may not come from the same sector you do, so be clear and avoid jargon.

Emphasise leadership and teamwork.

Trusteeship requires a balance of leadership and collaborative skills. Communicate your ability to work in a team and lead initiatives when necessary. Provide examples of successful collaboration, challenge, and support towards a common goal. If you don’t have trustee experience, explain what you will do to learn about good governance and how your skills, experience and strategic thinking can transfer into this role.

Show your commitment.

Trustees must become committed advocates for the organisation. Express your commitment to the long-term success of the organisation. Discuss your willingness to invest time and effort to understand the challenges and meaningfully contribute.

Show them how you will commit to the role and how you will balance your engagement with everything else that you do.

Be concise.

The people reviewing your application are often busy. Make your case compelling but to the point and easy to grasp.

Seek feedback.

Be sure to seek feedback before clicking ‘send’. Fresh perspectives help you to refine your message so that it resonates with a wide range of people. Consider seeking feedback from peers, mentors or colleagues from a range of areas of expertise.

I am always happy to review a statement to offer advice and constructive feedback.

A great supporting statement.

To sum up, a well-researched, succinct, and reflective supporting statement is your opportunity to shine.

Aligning your passion, skills and commitment to the mission of the organisation will help you to stand out.

Remember, your words have the power to inspire confidence and have the ability to make a lasting impression. Good luck!

Jennifer Horan is our resident ‘board boffin’, having recruited hundreds of trustees to not for profit organisations of all sizes. She truly believes that boards are integral in the health and wellbeing of our not for profit sector, and is happy to chat with you about any questions you have about applying to become a trustee.

You can connect with Jennifer on LinkedIn or send her an email to learn more about joining a charity board.