Almost half of charities have at least one vacancy on their board, according to a report, which aims to inspire people to give their time to charities in this way. “New, committed trustees are much needed, particularly in difficult economic times when charities are under enormous pressure,” says Clare Yeowart co-author of The benefits of trusteeship, published by New Philanthropy Capital.
Over half of charities surveyed in 2011 had seen increased demand for their services, but at the same time funding is being squeezed, as local authorities cut statutory funding and public donations fall.
The report outlines the benefits of trusteeship and gives guidance on how to find a trustee position that combines opportunities for personal development and the chance to make a difference to the community. It says: “For employers, supporting trusteeship can help develop staff skills and experience and give younger employees an opportunity to gain board-level experience at an early stage in their career.” It can also tie in with corporate social responsibility programmes and improve recruitment and retention.
The report also points to the lack of diversity among trustee boards. The average age of trustees in England and Wales is 57, two-thirds are aged 50 and over and only 0.5% are aged between 18 and 24.
Various trustees are featured as case studies in the report including Alan Mak, a 28-year-old solicitor, who is a trustee of the charity Magic Breakfast and a school governor. He says: “My philanthropic work is important to me and Magic Breakfast gives me the opportunity to use my professional skills to help a great charity address a pressing social need.”
The report also features interviews with employers and charities and has a section about how to find a suitable trustee position. It provides a checklist to assess whether or not a position would suit you with questions such as:
- Do I have confidence in the charity?
- Is the charity a good fit for me?
- Is the board fit for purpose?
- Does the charity support its trustees?
However, the report warns potential trustees to check a charity’s financial situation. “If risks are high, that is not necessarily a reason not to become a trustee at that charity. But it will be important to check your liabilities very carefully, review whether trustee indemnity insurance would be appropriate and see whether the board has a sound plan in place for addressing the risks.”
Download a copy of the report for free here