How can we help more people to become trustees?

Neal GreenNeal Green is a senior policy advisor at the Charity Commission. His two main current areas of responsibility are charity governance and the regulation of exempt charities.  More recently, he has worked on model constitutions for Charitable Incorporated Organisations, and guidance on decision-making for trustees. He helped to instigate Trustees’ Week, and is a regular contributor to Governance.

Celebrate Trustees’ Week 2014 by making a short video about what makes you tick as a trustee and you could win free tickets to the NCVO/BWB Trustee Conference on 10 November.

‘I couldn’t be a trustee – I’m not in a senior position at work, I don’t have enough experience and I wouldn’t have the first clue about being on a board…’

Trying to overturn views like this is exactly why the Charity Commission and its sector partners run the nationwide annual campaign, Trustees’ Week.

People don’t become trustees because they don’t know what it involves, or where to  find information and vacancies. The charity sector can be daunting, even to those within it, and can appear impenetrable, particularly if charities are not promoting their vacancies.

Who can be a trustee?

Trustees are the people in charge of a charity. They play a vital role, volunteering their time and making decisions about the charity’s activities, finances and plans for the future. To run effectively, a board needs a diverse mix of ages, backgrounds, and levels of experience; the student with a flair for social media, the retiree with three decades of finance experience and the working mother with a passion for a cause are all trustees in the making.

Charities need more trustees

Almost half the charities across England and Wales may have at least one vacancy on their board at any time. That’s where Trustees’ Week comes in. Now in its fifth year, the 2014 campaign runs from the 10-16 November and aims to showcase the essential work trustees do and raise awareness of what trusteeship is and how to get involved.

Make a difference

People often become trustees to ‘give something back’, but there is a two-way benefit:

  • charities benefit from the range of expertise and viewpoints their trustees bring
  • trustees have the chance to develop skills that are attractive to employers.

Trustees also gain a real insight into the work and governance of a charity, and have a chance to make a lasting difference to a cause they’re passionate about. There are about a million trustees in position across England and Wales, and even more across the rest of the UK – why not join them?

Where to begin?

The Trustees’ Week website offers a starting point. It lists organisations which advertise trustee vacancies (including NCVO’s Trustee Bank) and events across the country.

Visitors can find out what it’s like volunteering as a trustee  by reading the trustee stories, and guest blog posts. The site also offers useful resources for charities, including template board recruitment documents.

The Charity Commission provides information on the responsibilities of trustees on, as well as guidance on issues like decision making and conflicts of interest.

No-one expects you to do the role without help, but unfortunately at the Commission we do see instances of trustees getting the basics wrong when they are not familiar enough with their duties, or their charity’s aims. So, make sure you’re informed before you jump in!

Competition – create a video about your experiences as a trustee

Create a video telling us about your experience as a trustee for your chance to win a free ticket to the NCVO/BWB Trustee Conference and drinks reception on 10 November.

The three winning videos will be aired at the Conference, published on the Trustees’ Week website, YouTube and promoted on Twitter, so it’s a great chance to get your charity’s name out there.

Here are some things to consider…

  • What have been the ups and downs, and what have you learnt?
  • Would you do anything differently?
  • What made you choose your charity, and what advice would you give to anyone considering trusteeship?

You don’t have to be Steven Spielberg to enter – check out this simple example video, grab your phone, digital camera or tablet and start filming! Just remember to consider copyright law when making your video…

Videos must be no more than three minutes long and will be judged on:

  • content  ­– trusteeship and the challenges and triumphs it brings
  • quality – how creative and interesting it is.

Upload your completed entry to YouTube, and send the link to with your name and contact details.

The deadline for submissions is 09.00, Friday 10 October. Full brief on the Trustees’ Week website

Get involved in Trustees’ Week

Whatever you do this Trustees’ Week, make it count. Whether it’s running or attending an event, supporting the campaign on Twitter or gearing up the courage to apply for that trustee role you’ve had your eye on, get involved and make a difference this November.

For more details, go to the Trustees’ Week website or follow @trusteesweek

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