This week, 12 – 16th November 2018, is Trustees Week where we celebrate the efforts of hundreds of thousands of volunteers who give up their time to ensure robust leadership and governance for charities across the UK. This is also an opportunity to encourage and inspire others to get involved at this level.
What is a Trustee?
Trustees are responsible for a charity and work together to ensure financial sustainability, legal compliance and provide strategic direction. These people are often volunteers and make up a ‘Board of Trustees’ or ‘management committee’ which becomes the body for decision making in an organisation. Trustees should bring their own individual knowledge and opinions but support any decisions made as a collective.
Charities are always looking for skilled people to join their Trustee board so there are lots of opportunities to volunteer at this level. Figures shared as part of trustees week suggest that there are roughly 196,000 charities across the UK with over a million Trustees in total.
Why do people become Trustees?
Probably the main reason for becoming a Trustee is the desire to make a difference and support a cause. It is personally rewarding to contribute in this way and can have a significant positive impact on the wellbeing of those who volunteer and of course the beneficiaries of the organisation delivering the work. Not only that but as Reach Volunteering highlight, ‘becoming a Trustee can be good for your career as well as your health’, supporting individuals to gain strategic experience, strengthen professional networks, learn new skills and more.
Speaking to a number of experienced trustees, it is clear that the role is challenging but rewarding at the same time…
“I was passionate about the charity sector benefiting from robust leadership, governance and strategic planning. Few voluntary sector organisations have access to trusted and impartial critical friends or expertise in particular professions so their board is a good opportunity to source those expertise. For me, it was also an opportunity to gain insight into how another voluntary organisation operates in a very different area of policy & practice so I learned a huge amount too. I strengthened my professional network and I got to volunteer my time skills and energy in the process. It made me a more rounded strategic operator and it wasn’t without its challenges so I feel it was time well spent” – Nina Prosser, Trustee, Touch Trust (2015 – 2017)
“I became a trustee to make a difference for a charity I cared about. As the honorary treasurer, I was able to use my financial knowledge to help the charity resolve some of its long term financial risks. On a personal level, I learnt a lot outside of my specialism and this helped me develop on a personal and professional basis” – Alex Mannings, Honorary Treasurer, Ramblers GB (2015 – 2018)
In Wales, Empower offers a matching service, working with charities to identify what skills they need and then approaching high calibre individuals to fill these positions. Director, Bev Garside, said:
“Trustee recruitment is one of the most enjoyable parts of our role here at Empower because it provides an opportunity for real win-win partnerships. For potential trustees, it provides an opportunity to utilise existing skills and develop new ones through a strategic non-executive directorship role within the charity sector. For charities, there is the opportunity to benefit from highly skilled individuals bringing their specialisms and their passion to the board”.
“Trusteeship is an ideal proving ground for those wishing to move into a paid leadership position and companies benefit encouraging senior managers to seek appointments to charity boards”.
If you are interested in becoming a Trustee with an organisation in Wales, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org