In Celebration of Charity Chairs

No, I don’t really mean the thing you sit on. I mean the person who leads the Board and oversees and supports the CEO.

I’ve worked with a number of Charity Chairs in my time – yes, a minority who were appallingly ineffective or self-interested, but the vast majority an example of selflessness and dedication that I find a daily source of inspiration.

A great Chair is as essential to the success of a charity as a great CEO.

They need to expend considerable energy on their voluntary role, usually taking a back seat in terms of exposure and credit to the CEO themselves.

They have to balance a delicate role between overseeing and managing a CEO (who may have a lot more specific experience in the field than they do) and supporting them – the ultimate ‘critical friend’.

They also need to balance the vital necessity of a strong, engaged and supportive relationship with the CEO, while not doing so to the exclusion of the Board.

They need to lead the Board in being professional, effective, and always able to act in the best interests of the charity’s beneficiaries.

It’s a role that takes knowledge, dedication, perseverance and exceptional interpersonal skills – not to mention the willingness to do what is really a job completely without personal benefit.

Over the past few months, I’ve worked very closely with an exceptionally good Chair who took on the challenge of turning around a charity in crisis. While there are many people – myself included – working tirelessly to bring the charity back to its potential, no one could be said to have given more than the Chair. This has made me think about all the Chairs I have worked with who have been effective, supportive, dedicated and completely focussed on their beneficiaries.

I therefore felt it was time to recognise the exceptional contribution that Chairs make to the charity world, and on behalf of CEOs, charity workers, Trustees and beneficiaries everywhere, I’d like to say:

Thank you. You rock.

For more information and advice on the Charity Chair role, check out:

  1. ACEVO have an excellent publication on the relationship between the CEO and the Chair –
  2. The Association of Chairs provides information and support to Chairs and Vice-Chairs in England and Wales –
  3. Willow Charity Consulting offers support to Trustees and Chairs, including access to advice, training and governance reviews. For more information, go to

If you need help or support with your Chair role – or working with a charity chair, get in touch to see if we can help. Never forget, there’s no fee for a chat.