More people should be trustees. They really should.
It is often forgotten as a volunteer role, but it is absolutely one of the best ways to volunteer your skills and experience and make a real significant contribution to a charity.
This truly fantastic volunteer role suffers, in my view, due its name. The word ‘trustee’ sounds like a term from the nineteenth century, conjuring visions of old men sitting in a smoke-filled board room drinking brandy. The reality is very different … I’ve definitely not had any brandy! Trustees should and do come from all walks of life and it is a dynamic, diverse and rewarding position.
Trustees work as a team utilising their individual and collective skills and experience to direct and make key decisions for an organisation. They take legal responsibility for the charity and work with, challenge and support the Chief Executive to ensure the charity is being well run and delivering its objectives.
As I run a Volunteer Centre it will be no surprise that I volunteer myself and the formal volunteer work I do is through being a Trustee as it is a way to use my skills and experience to support a charity that fits with my work and time commitments. I am currently a proud Trustee of 3 great but different charities: Adventure Ashram, Camden Giving and London Plus.
Although it is arguably the best, do not think it is the easiest volunteer role, far from it. The last 5 years have been extremely challenging for most charities, particularly those with a turnover of under £1 million. Years of austerity have meant increased competition for reduced available funding. To survive, let alone be sustainable, charities have needed to and still are adapting to a new economic environment.
Devising, evaluating and evolving innovative strategies for a charity are the responsibility of the Trustees. With these challenges often come opportunities and a well functioning board of Trustees will work together to identify and prioritise the opportunities and objectives for the organisation.
If that sounds interesting to you, then why not become a Trustee? The meetings are usually just after work and often are between 4-6 face to face meetings per year.
There are a number of ways to find trustee opportunities:
- Contact your local Volunteer Centre, there is often one for your local authority area or region
- Reach Volunteering – https://reachvolunteering.org.uk/
- Do-It www.do-it.org
- Charity Jobs – https://www.charityjob.co.uk/volunteer-jobs?keywords=Trustee
- Team London (London only) – https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/volunteering/search/
- Direct Contact – find a charity you like and contact them directly to ask if they are looking for Trustees. The Chief Executive is a good place to start and if you can explain briefly what skills/experience you have to offer along with your CV it will help.
- Other options via Trustees Week website (well worth a look): http://trusteesweek.org/find/
Other useful Trustee Information:
- NCVO What is a Charity Trustee Guide
- NCVO What Trustees Must Do Guide
- NCVO How Trustees Look After a Charity Guide
- Charities Commission – Charity trustee: what’s involved
- Charities Commission – The essential trustee: what you need to know, what you need to do