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Trustees Unlimited urges young professionals to become trustees this Volunteers Week

However, the number of trustees in Britain remained almost static at 947,000. Trustees Unlimited wants this to change. It is marking Volunteers’ Week 2014 by calling for more young professionals across Britain to become charity trustees.

Ian Joseph, CEO, Trustees Unlimited and joint Managing Director, Russam GMS commented, “There are just over 180,000 charities in England and Wales registered with the Charity Commission, and it’s estimated that around half have at least one vacancy on their board. With the volunteer sector being called on to provide more services, the need for top talent on charity boards is more pressing than ever. Many young professionals may not have considered trusteeship as a way of volunteering and we hope that by highlighting the benefits and opportunities more of them will consider it this Volunteers’ Week.”

“Becoming a trustee can enhance peoples’ employability and career prospects and provide an opportunity for them to give something back to society. In recent years, we’ve seen many more corporates encouraging their high potential employees to become trustees as a part of their ongoing professional development, but there is still a real shortage of talented professionals on charity boards.”

According to figures from the Charity Commission, just 0.5% of trustees in England and Wales are aged between 18 and 24 (compared with 12% of the population as a whole the average age of trustees is 57, and two thirds are aged over 50, plus 43.4 of trustees are female and 56% are male.

“Charities have a big role to play in attracting young professionals. Many are still failing to cast their recruitment net widely enough to attract people with a broad range of skills and experience. Some are guilty of make meetings inaccessible to working professionals and failing to review the performance of trustees regularly or refresh the skills on their boards to make room for new recruits. Another problem is that some charities aren’t promoting their vacancies widely enough to attract professional people.” 

This issue was raised by Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts at Russam GMS's annual civil society event held in May. Lord Hodgson said there was a clear link between underperforming charities and boards where trustees had served for 5, 10 or even 15 years. He also stressed that if charities hold their meetings at lunchtime, in the middle of the week at the golf club how can they expect to attract professional people?

Ian Joseph adds, “We hope that this year’s Volunteers’ Week will prompt many professionals to become a trustee. However, they need to be aware of the risks and liabilities involved in trusteeship and undertake due diligence and research into an organisation before they apply for and accept a role.”  

Here are a few of Ian’s top tips people considering a trustee role:

Be sure that this is really something you want to do. Do lots of research online about the pros and cons of being a trustee before making a decision

Visit the http://www.volunteering.org.ukwebsite as there’s lots of useful information on how to volunteer

Register your interest directly with Trustees Unlimited, the preferred supplier for NUS. It’s easy to do, just visit the website:  http://www.trusteesunlimited.co.uk/wanttobeatrusteeform.html

Make sure you do your homework and find a charity you feel really passionate about. If you are going to dedicate a lot of time to the charity, you need to feel strongly about it

Be aware of the time commitments. Every charity will have different expectations. Make sure you can give it the time it requires but that there is still time available for you to look for full time employment and attend interviews. Don’t over commit!

“Although all of these factors need to be considered carefully, there are huge benefits and rewards that can be gained by being a trustee – it can be a truly life changing experience.”

About Volunteers Week

Volunteers’ Week is an annual event that celebrates the contribution made by millions of volunteers across the UK and is run by NCVO in partnership with volunteering groups in Scotland, Ireland and Wales. To find out more about Volunteers’ Week visit www.volunteersweek.org

To find out more about becoming a trustee and current vacancies visit http://www.trustees-unlimited.co.uk/

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