Friday, 1 November 2013

Get on Board

Written by Claire Chapman, Information and Membership Officer, One East Midlands

With Trustees Week kicking off on Monday 4th November and our AGM taking place later this month, One East Midlands is extremely grateful for the work of our dedicated team of trustees. However the results of recent surveys can sometimes put trustees of VCS organisations in a negative light – I examine why age may play a part in this.

According to research by the Charity Commission the average age of a trustee is 57 and only 0.5 percent of trustees are aged 18 to 25 years old. This has led to the suggestion that the boards of charities lack diversity and are often not representative of their beneficiaries.

As a 34-year-old who at the beginning of the year joining the board of Headway Derby (I’m looking forward to officially getting elected later this month at their AGM), I fall into the age range and views of those under 35s surveyed by Young Charity Trustees, where 85 percent of respondents wanted to become a trustee and 82 percent of those who had been a trustee rated the experience as positive or very positive.

However I should argue that I didn’t become a trustee because of the age range I fell into or to try and drop the average age, but because I wanted to put something back into a charity, my locality and make use of my skills and knowledge.

I’ll admit it took me a while to find the perfect board to join, despite signing up to newsletters and working for an organisation that will advertise trustee vacancies from across the region for free. But I didn’t give up hope and when I found the trustee vacancy for me I was welcomed with open arms.

At any moment there are thousands of VCS trustee vacancies, especially as we enter the run up to AGM season. So whatever your age and background, if you have the passion, skills and the time (often no more than a couple of hours a month) go for it, perhaps even taking your search a step further than mine and write to the charities you would like to support direct.

And if you are a VCS organisation struggling to fill your board vacancies, this Trustees Week make a resolution to spread the word wider and include the VCS in your search. Why, well in the small team at One East Midlands alone I’m a charity trustee, we have one former trustee, and our Chief Executive is a school governor. 

Although none of us have yet reached the age of 57 we all hope to still be volunteering until we get there and beyond. In the meantime we will continue to channel our passion and drive into useful voluntary roles and encourage others, including the younger population, to do the same.

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