Have you ever thought of being a charity Trustee?  Do you know anyone who is?  Trustees are the (usually unpaid) people who run charities at a governance level across the country, from the biggest household names to the smallest local organisations.  Trusteeship is a fantastic opportunity to ‘put something back’, to use your skills, to pick up new ones, to make your CV stand out and to make a difference to causes that you care about.  Sadly diversity on Boards is an issue: the typical Trustee in this country is ‘pale, male and stale’ and the average age is 57.

I was volunteering for a charity called Centre 404, sitting on a subcommittee, when I was asked to be a Trustee.  I was amazed they wanted me to do it, as up until that point I thought that Trusteeship was something that only retired people got involved with.  I thought about it and decided that I really cared about the charity and its work and I wanted to get involved further, so I joined the Board.   I found it to be a fantastic experience: I became a member of a number of other committees, helped to plan an extension to our building, worked to help ensure the best quality service possible for our beneficiaries and met an array of fascinating, talented people.  It helped me on both a personal level through allowing me to feel more embedded in my local community and on a professional one because I was helping to take decisions that were beyond my pay grade in my day job.  I wondered why more young people like me didn’t seem to be Trustees so I did a bit of research and found that in general a lot of young people have no idea that they can be trustees and a lot of charities don’t know how to attract younger people to their Boards or even think that young people wouldn’t be interested in supporting them in this way.  I set up the small organisation Young Charity Trustees initially just as a group on LinkedIn.

Over time, the influence of Young Charity Trustees has grown.  I have spoken at quite a few events and YCT Ambassadors (of which RGBI National Publicity Officer Nisha Kotecha is one) have helped me to represent the organisation.  I have helped charities bring younger people onto their Boards and more and more young people are thinking about Trusteeship and taking the first steps to securing a position.

Here is a video where I explain about Trusteeship a bit further 

There are a lot of reasons why it makes sense to have younger people on Boards. They bring new skills and new ideas, they help keep charities in contact with their beneficiaries (especially if they are youth charities) and in the current financial climate charities simply can’t afford to miss out on the passion and support of such a big chunk of the population.

I think Rotaractors are ideal people to become charity Trustees and want to give you four reasons why:

1- You are in the age range that is massively under-represented on Boards.

2- You are a diverse group of people.  Age is of course only one form of diversity.  Rotaract welcomes people of all genders, ethnicities and backgrounds.

3- You understand the link between the local, the national and the global.  In a world that is increasingly connected, charities have to make connections and to collaborate in order to survive.

4- You have a host of skills that charities would love to use.

So please, consider becoming a Trustee.  This blog piece, http://www.womeninpa.co.uk/blog/trustee-to-be-or-not-to-be/ based on an event that I spoke at, gives some useful tips on how to go about it.  Or please feel free to contact me if I can be of use.

Alex Swallow is Chief Executive of the Small Charities Coalition  and the Founder of Young Charity Trustees. He blogs at One Swallow makes a Summer

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