My Journey to Becoming a Young Trustee
My Journey to Becoming a Young Trustee
I became a Trustee of Centre 404 several years ago. When I was asked I was already a volunteer at the charity, but I never imagined that I could become a Trustee. I thought being a Trustee was only for much older, mainly retired people. I really enjoyed learning about the organisation, meeting the key people and starting to contribute at a Governance level. One day, along with the Chief Executive and two fellow Trustees, I was lucky enough to go to a national Trustee conference.
Once there I was shocked by how few young people were attending and began to look into things more deeply. I found that, according to Charity Commission research, the average age of a Trustee in England and Wales is 57. I decided to do something about it. Just over a year ago, I set up a group for Young Trustees on LinkedIn. I thought it would be a good way to encourage current and potential future Young Trustees to network and also for those with more experience to provide encouragement and advice. I was struck by how many people were interested and it was obvious that this was an area which was currently lacking support. Through Trustees Week http://trusteesweek.blogspot.co.uk/ awareness of Young Charity Trustee (YCT) built and it gave me the opportunity to reach out to other organisations.
In December 2011 I also put YCT on Twitter and Facebook and in spring this year we got a website, designed for free for us by the brilliant Inspiring Young People http://inspiringyoungpeople.com/. A few months ago I took on my first two volunteers who are already driving things forward. I have now managed to meet with a lot of organisations and charities who are interested in promoting Trusteeship and through their generosity and support, our message is starting to get out. JCI London has been particularly helpful. As well as promoting Trusteeship, I am also keen that YCT generally promotes opportunities for young people and shows them how they can fulfil their potential and JCI provides a great example of that. JCI London member Natalie Jewel recently gave a brilliant explanation of what can be gained by young people becoming Trustees http://www.jcilondon.org.uk/blog/2012/06/why-i-become-a-charity-trustee/ Some of her key points were the pleasure you get from being involved with something that you are passionate about, the opportunity to learn new skills that will take your career
forward, and being able to help develop things right from a proposal to implementation. I think that getting young people on Boards is a classic 'win win' situation, with great benefits for younger people and for the charities themselves. There are many charities who either don't have enough Board members or who struggle to replace current members when they leave. At a difficult economic time with the very existence of many charities under threat, excellent Governance is especially needed. If I think of my own experience as a Trustee- now as Co Vice Chair and Company Secretary- I have learnt so much. From scrutinising budgets to working on strategic plans, from helping set staff pay to sitting down for meetings with banks to poring over architectural drawings, it's been an amazing and worthwhile journey so far. Perhaps the most rewarding thing for me is seeing that Trusteeship can both build executive skills but also have a real impact at a grassroots level. Whatever leadership position you want to go into, whether in the private, public or third sector, being a Trustee is only going to be an asset and is something I greatly urge you to consider.
Founder of Young Charity Trustees (YCT)
Website: http://youngcharitytrustees.org/ -YCT exists to encourage more young people to be Trustees and to support those who have already taken on Trusteeship