When I have spoken to friends and colleagues about becoming a trustee, I’ve had some interesting and variable responses…
“I don’t have time with work and family.”
“I am really keen, tell me more!”
“I’m thinking about it around when I retire.”
“What’s in it for me?”
“If I can balance my other commitments I’m interested.”
“Would I add any value to the charity?”
“How do I become a trustee?”
I have probably been most surprised, disappointed even, when I hear “What’s in it for me?”. Why? Well, my view is that the primary reason of working with a charity as a trustee is to help their organisation rather than yourself. The additional benefits are for your own personal development too, as well as bringing back experiences and learning to your employer (my employer Fujitsu supported me through a trustee training programme) and a wider professional and personal circle of influence and network. So you can benefit yourself in ways that you perhaps not realise until putting yourself forward and trying it out.
I have the privilege myself of working with the Joshua Tree charity, starting in 2013 as a non-executive trustee, then since 2014 as a full trustee. I say privilege because I am humbled by the fantastic work and support the Joshua Tree provides to families with children suffering from cancer, and remarkable achievements and progress continue to be made as the charity grows quickly and evolves.
Starting as a non-executive trustee means you and the charity can work together and decide over time if it is right and appropriate for you to continue the relationship with the option of formalising the role as a full member of the trustee board, with the accountabilities and voting rights that come with the role. There are different ways you can add value to charities through the skills you have developed over your career. It’s worth offering to discuss how and where you could do so.
Some really useful resources that are worth looking at:
- The Charity Commission has published material that supports trustees – I would suggest starting with this link
- The FSI (Foundation for Social Improvement) charity helped me through training when I started through a talent programme at my employer Fujitsu – the videos are only a few minutes long and worth viewing.
I am thoroughly enjoying working with the Joshua Tree, whilst balanced with my own work and family commitments. I would recommend you to take a few minutes of your own time and think about whether you would want to be a trustee of a charity yourself too, whatever stage of life you are at.
Maybe reading this will be a prompt to take some positive action?