The Chair of the Council of Trustees is not an executive officer of Sightsavers. The most senior executive officer within Sightsavers is the Chief Executive, who reports to the Council.
The roles of the Council and Strategic Management Team (SMT) are clearly defined and distinct from one another. In broad terms the trustees are concerned with:
Trustees thus focus on the Society’s purpose and what it can reasonably do in a given time period. Trustees set the parameters, policies and values within which management and staff are free to act. Once the parameters are set, the staff is empowered to make reasonable judgements about planning and organising the work to achieve the agreed aims. The trustees’ role is then to monitor performance. They have their own version of the Strategy, Implementation and Monitoring Card (SIM card), which is based on the roles and responsibilities of trustees as set out by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), and which includes Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which assist in performance management.
The trustees look to management for high quality, well informed advice on which to base decisions about the organisation’s objectives, evaluation processes and the like. Management rely on the trustees to provide objective and challenging feedback from a non-executive perspective. This interdependence between trustees and management recognises the fact that while trustees are legally responsible for the charity’s activities, both trustees and senior management are morally responsible for the way in which the Society conducts itself.