Why You Should Consider Becoming a Charity Trustee
There are over 900,000 trustees in the UK working with nearly 200,000 charities. So why are so many people unaware that these positions even exist?
Let’s take a closer look at what it really means to be a trustee of a charity. Who knows, it may be the perfect position for you.
What is a charity trustee?
A trustee is a volunteer who serves on the governing body of a charity, responsible for the general running of the organisation. As the role of a trustee is voluntary, it’s not a paid position (although many charities will pay things like expenses and travel). But it’s also not a full-time job. Most trustee boards meet monthly or even quarterly. That means you can pursue trustee positions at several charities and even do it alongside your regular full-time position.
But don’t let the fact that it’s unpaid deter you. It’s such an amazing experience being able to shape the direction of a charity—just think about how rewarding it is when you actually see all your work yielding positive results!
What do trustees do?
First and foremost, charity trustees make the crucial decisions. They have oversight of the charity’s activities, funds and future—in other words, they’re in charge of the charity’s affairs.
Some of these responsibilities can include:
- helping the CEO lead the organisation
- contributing skills and expertise to an important cause
- leading the strategic development of the organisation
- making sure the charity is delivering on its goals
- looking after the organisation’s finances
- taking care of the charity’s assets.
Because the trustee board is responsible for such a broad overview of the organisation, most boards look to bring in people with a range of different expertise and skills—from finance and marketing to legal and HR.
It’s a great idea for trustees to do some strong research on the charity before they start. Many charities will offer relevant training to support their new trustees or allow them to sit in on a trustee meeting as an observer.
Why should you become a trustee?
Being a charity trustee means leading the organisation. It’s a vital and stimulating role, ensuring the charity is not only reaching its goals, but is forward-thinking and running as efficiently as possible. Trustees set the direction of the organisation and work closely with the CEO. They’re strategic, and they’re an absolutely necessary part of any charity.
Becoming a trustee of a charity is both a rewarding way to help your community and a way to learn fantastic new skills. It’s an invigorating and dynamic role, which puts you at the very heart of a charity and its work, liaising with a team of like-minded people.
It’s also great experience to add to your CV, whether you work in the charity sector or not. And if you’re already highly skilled, it’s a great way to use these skills to make a difference for a cause you’re passionate about.
Creating a more diverse trustee board
Charities help some of the world’s most vulnerable people, both at home and abroad. As such, everything the charity does needs to be tactful and considerate of a range of backgrounds, cultures and beliefs. That’s why diversity is so important across the sector—it needs to be representative of the population it’s helping, and that diversity starts at the board level.
There’s no limitation to who can serve on a board. You don’t have to have 20 years of experience and several degrees to be an effective leader. In fact, there’s been a push in recent years for more young people, people with disabilities and members of minority or ethnic communities to join trustee boards. That’s because a diverse board offers a broader mix of skills. It allows for fresher ideas and new perspectives and keeps charities from getting stuck in the past.
Think this sounds like the right role for you?
The good news? There are loads of charity trustee positions all over the country just waiting to be filled! Take a look at which charities are looking for trustees today.
This post was originally published in 2019 and has been updated to ensure relevance and to reflect the current jobseeker experience.