Four years ago, Democracy Club advertised for its first non-executive directors to help develop and grow the organisation. As someone who had come across Democracy Club on Twitter, I was interested and applied and was lucky enough to be selected.
Non-executive directors (NEDs) are people who don’t work for an organisation, but sit on the board to help with governance and strategy. Many companies have NEDs, and charities have trustees (which are similar, but different in certain aspects). As a community interest company, it is good practice to have non-executive directors involved to ensure the organisation acts in a pro-social way.
The Democracy Club board meets regularly (currently about once every two months) to help Sym and the rest of the Democracy Club staff with planning the future, as well as providing some scrutiny in terms of delivering the plan and financial accountability. Each of the NEDs has an interest in digital democracy, but they also each bring their own particular expertise and experiences.
Outside of the board meetings, non-exec directors may get involved in things like income-generation, HR, PR & comms or technical governance; usually by supporting the team or making useful contacts. Board members can also take part in the regular volunteering that happens at Democracy Club, such as updating and checking candidate data when an election is called.
Pre-COVID, the board generally met in person in London (although some people joined remotely) and there was an annual board away day, again in London, to do some longer term planning. We’ve obviously moved to having fully remote meetings now, and that might be how we keep them, or we might look to do a mixture in the future.
Being a NED is a great way of supporting the work of Democracy Club, as well as being a valuable opportunity to understand more about governance, finance and strategy within a small organisation. There are spreadsheets, but they are relatively easy to understand and certainly don’t dominate our meetings.
Democracy Club is in a very different place to where it was when I joined in 2017. Our coverage of UK elections is growing strongly, as is our reputation as a vital part of the democratic infrastructure. We’ve recently been working on a new strategic plan, although the combination of being a small, lean organisation and having just been through a pandemic means that our finances are never going to be rock solid.
Who we are looking for
We’re now in a position to start recruiting for a few more non-executive directors to join the board.
- We’re looking for people who are interested in what we do, specifically democracy and digital/tech-for-good; but that can be a passion rather than professional expertise.
- We’re particularly interested in bringing in people with finance, income-generation and communications experience.
- A corporate or business background would also be a plus, as this is not an area currently represented on our board.
- You don’t have to be “senior” or have a fancy job title to become a NED. Previous experience of being a trustee or similar is helpful, but by no means a requirement.
- As with many organisations, we’re acutely aware of ensuring our board represents the make-up of the UK, in terms of gender, ethnicity, disability, and in particular that the nations and regions of the UK are well represented.
What you get in return
You’ll be a key member of the Democracy Club board, helping to shape our work improving democracy throughout the UK through the use of digital tools.
Although the role is unpaid, we can pay reasonable travel expenses where required; and welcome discussions about how we can make adjustments to accommodate particular requirements a potential board member may have.
You will need to abide by our Code of Conduct. In particular, Democracy Club is a non-partisan organisation, so our board members can not also be actively involved in politics.
Your term of office is three years, and we would hope that you were able to commit for at least that period of time.
How to apply
If this sounds like you and you’d like to be considered as a non-executive director of Democracy Club, then please email Olly with a brief outline of why you think you would make a suitable candidate (max 500 words). The closing date is 31 October 2021, and after that date we will select candidates who both meet the criteria and also ensure there is a good mix of expertise and representation on the board.
You are welcome to get in touch too if you’ve got any questions or want an informal chat; either use the same email address or contact me on Twitter @ollybenson.