Advice for charity trustees
05 July 2018
Charities admit they struggle to hire trustees, we want to promote the benefits of taking up such a challenging yet rewarding role.
What does it take?
The role of a charity trustee has many perks but it’s worth understanding how these can vary depending on the size and nature of the organisation. You might wonder:
- How much time will I need to commit?
- What expertise do I have that can benefit the charity?
- What skills will I gain as a trustee?
- What are the risks associated with being a trustee?
But it’s hard to say because being a charity trustee, your responsibilities are likely to vary for a community group compared with a large charity or a social enterprise. It’s therefore important to do your research and really understand the scope of the role firstly, so you don’t over commit and secondly, so you achieve what you would like in the process.
There are however, some benefits as well as some of the risks that might help sway your decision.
Benefits of being a charity trustee
- Gain experience in strategic planning
The board of trustees will often form the strategy for the charity. In an ever-evolving sector, not-for-profits are frequently looking for new opportunities and equally face many challenges from emerging risks. You will gain experience managing these risks and creating long-term plans for the charity’s continuing viability.
- Develop skills in new areas
It’s likely that each trustee at your chosen charity will have their own unique skills to bring to the table. Working closely with the board means working as a team and learning from each other.
- Add significant value to the table
The NPC’s State of the Sector programme highlights the importance of diversity at board level as well as some of the areas required by charities today such as experience with online fundraising methods or cyber risks. Equally, you might find a charity who needs an accountant, or marketing skills and if you have them, you should be a shoo-in for the role.
- Youth is on your side
If you’re just starting out, being a charity trustee is a great way to gain experience for your CV. Traditionally the average age of a charity trustee is 59 years old which may be a little daunting if you are younger. However, 51% of charities believe having diversity on a board can benefit charities and so will seek to employ a range of talent from different backgrounds.
- Build a network of contacts
Working in the not-for-profit sector will expose you to new faces and potentially new opportunities, you just need to keep your ear to the ground and make sure you network.