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Why become a Trustee?

Posted on 7/07/2020 by Matt Adams

Trustee cubes in book

The demand for trustees to sit on the boards of charities remains high - research from Getting on Board in 2017 found that 74% of charities reported difficulties in recruiting trustees, and the Charity Commission’s Taken on Trust report shows some of the biggest skills gaps exist in marketing, digital/online skills, fundraising and campaigning – 26% of boards said that it is difficult to find people with the skills the charity needs. There is also increasing pressure on boards to bring on more young trustees and broaden their diversity.

Given that charity employees often have those skills most in demand, as well as a desire to support the third sector, it seems strange that more of them are not on the boards of other not for profits. Some – wrongly (!) - feel they don’t have the right attributes to be a trustee, while others may not know where to look for suitable roles or fear the time commitment would be too much. It’s been shown that volunteering can make a positive impact on your health and wellbeing, but becoming a trustee can also be an invaluable addition to your CV, particularly if you are looking to move up the career ladder in the future.

Here are four key career benefits to trusteeship:

1. Gain strategic experience

Sitting on a board of trustees gives you a unique insight into the highest possible level of a charity. Trustees are responsible for setting the future direction of a charity and moving it forward. By becoming a trustee, you’ll gain a better understanding of governance, how the different areas of a charity work together and how decisions are made.

As you progress up the career ladder, you’ll need to move out of your particular silo, so showing you have a good grasp of how different departments work and how charities are run can really give you a head start. Even in your current position, becoming a trustee can help you empathise with the trustees of your own organisation and what they are looking for.

Gill Raikes, Director of Fundraising for the National Trust, says “A trustee role, no matter how modest, is a fantastic thing to put on a CV. Understanding governance and responsibilities are key attributes even if they relate to something different to the role for which the candidate is applying.”

2. Learn new skills

Being a trustee means operating at a more senior level and learning new skills. Working as part of a senior team is particularly good for developing those soft skills that you’ll need in management roles, such as communication, teamwork, negotiation, decision-making, goal-setting and, of course, leadership. An employee who demonstrates a good awareness of these skills is one who is more likely to be selected for a promotion.

So valuable is trusteeship in broadening your skillset, that some charities actively encourage their staff to volunteer as trustees, as a cost-effective form of training and some charities offer paid time off for trustee work to their employees.

3. Build up your network

With an estimated 80% of all jobs never advertised on the open market, when it comes to moving up the charity career ladder, who you know can be just as important as what you know.

Becoming a trustee means you’ll work together with senior professionals, building relationships that can be useful for mentorships, sharing information and job hunting. It’s also great opportunity to build up your profile within the sector.

4. Demonstrate your commitment

When recruiting for vacancies, charities tend to look for people who can demonstrate a commitment to both their cause and the sector as a whole. Serving as a trustee is a great way to prove that you are willing to go above and beyond your day job to benefit the charity sector and that you are serious about contributing to it.

The Director of HR for the Prince’s Trust, Steve Wiggins, says that "I feel it shows that the candidate has gone above and beyond their role – it shows passion about wanting to make a difference and helps them to stand out".

So how do you find a trustee job?

TPP Recruitment advertises trustee jobs on our website and if you register, you can set up  job alerts to let you know when new vacancies are added. We can also have a conversation with you to discuss the types of opportunities and organisations you would be interested in becoming a trustee for and where your skills might be best suited to.

Trustee vacancies are generally advertised on sector job boards and on the websites of the charities themselves. You can also indicate you are interested in volunteer vacancies on your Career Interests page on LinkedIn or under the Volunteer Experience section of your profile. Getting on Board also run some useful events for new trustees.

If you would like to discuss this further and find out how we can assist you in finding your first Trusteeship, please get in touch with Lisa or Matt on 020 7198 6040 or