Whilst the average age of a trustee in England and Wales is 57, a rising number of younger people are embracing the opportunity to become actively involved in the governing of charities across the sector. 2015 was the year I decided to take this step by becoming the youngest member on the board for Darjeeling Children’s Trust – a UK based charity working on projects that benefit the education and social advancement of children and young people in Darjeeling.
Why become a young trustee
Being a trustee is a great way of gaining a working overview of how charities are run, and offers the opportunity to add experience to your existing skillset. Volunteering in this way for a cause you care passionately about will put you in a position of responsibility that will strengthen many of your professional and personal attributes, adding greatly to your career advancement. From fundraising to financial planning, the scope to get involved varies greatly and will differ with each individual charity.
What do charities have to gain
Young people are generally under-represented on the boards of charities but have a great deal of enthusiasm and perspective to offer. The skills I was able to offer that secured a place within my chosen charity were within digital communications, marketing and fundraising with the promise of implementing a social media strategy that would boost awareness and ultimately convert to donations. Selecting younger trustees gives charities a much more balanced and holistic approach to running their organisation, through utilising skills that are generally more common place amongst younger generations.
Depending on the type of charity, having a younger presence may be helpful in connecting fellow trustees to their cause and directly benefiting the reciprocates. NFP organisations that are focused on benefiting young people could help shape their perspective and course of action through effectively representing that demographic at board level. It makes sense that a charity’s strategy should be influenced by individuals of a similar age to those being helped, who can perhaps better understand some of the challenges being faced.
Finding a good match & getting involved
The best starting point is to think about what causes you are passionate about and what you have to offer. Are numbers your thing? Do you have great organisational skills that could be put to use coordinating volunteers? Wherever your strengths and interests lie, focus on these as your way in and show what you have to offer. In return you are likely to get access to a wealth of knowledge from your fellow trustees and a great arena to build on your skill set, all the while benefiting a great cause.
If you are considering becoming a trustee and want to learn more about finding opportunities Small Charities Coalition have a great website full of practical tips: https://ow.ly/2bu3R
For a handy database of UK based charities check out Charity Choice: https://ow.ly/2bu3R
Felicity (@day_jyes) is the digital communications manager at Darjeeling Children’s Trust (@darjchildtrust) where she also coordinates fundraising events.
Find out more about the Trust and their work in Darjeeling here https://ow.ly/2bu3RI
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