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blog • Resource


Megan Raybould

21 August 2020

This week we’ve been researching: ‘what can you get from being a trustee?’.

Why might you become a trustee?

There are lots of reasons you might want to become a trustee and plenty you can gain from it. I think some of the main benefits are to:

  • Develop skills
  • Grow your network
  • Learn about governance and understand how the charity sector works
  • Make friends
  • Give you a sense of fulfilment  (that warm feeling)

Shouldn’t being a trustee only be about giving back and being dedicated to the ‘cause’?

Being a trustee enables you to support organisations that you believe are doing important work. You’re able to be part of the amazing work they’re doing and contribute to it.

As a trustee you’ll be dedicating your skills, knowledge, time and energy into making sure the charity and the way it’s governed are suitable and fit for purpose.

You’ll also be able to develop your skills, build your CV and learn from others. Taking on a trustee role, and being aware and motivated by the potential impact on your career is not a bad thing!

The brilliant thing about being a trustee is that you're able to give and gain at the same time.

How can you create opportunities within your board to develop the skills you want?

There are lots of ways you can develop your skills while on a board and ways for boards to support, enable and promote opportunities for trustees to develop. This includes: mentoring programmes; meeting trustees from other organisations; joining networks; reading; and attending trainings.

NCVO has this great article on trustee development. They explain that a trustee board can identify the skills, knowledge, qualities and experiences each trustee brings by carrying out a ‘skills audit’. NCVO have a template skills audit which you can currently download for free, here.

This helps trustees and boards identify the skills the members of the board have, and how to make the most of them. It also allows the board to reflect on areas of development, or opportunities for skills and knowledge exchanges.

NCVO also offers courses in the ‘studyzone’ to help trustees develop necessary skills, some of these are free to all, others are available to registered members. You can access them here.

Another great way to develop your skills as a trustee is to join networks with other trustees such as this one! You can let us know the sorts of spaces you’d like to see on the digital hub and the topics you’d like to be covered in the ‘design the movement’ topic, here. If having a group or meetings to offer skills sharing interests you - let us know.

Can being a young trustee benefit your career?

Absolutely, Reach Volunteering have written about what they think the 5 career benefits are of being a trustee (in this article). One of which is developing skills and experiences:

Through trusteeship you can gain a clearer idea of your own professional strengths and weaknesses whilst simultaneously learning altogether new skills. Understanding how to adapt your professional knowledge to useful ends within a charity is a good reminder of your own versatility, giving you confidence in your existing abilities whilst challenging you push the boundaries of your expertise.”

Third Sector interviewed recruitment leads and asked them what they thought of trusteeships. Here’s what they said:

Joanne Major, charity recruitment team leader at the consultancy Eden Brown says being a trustee: "demonstrates that they have got commitment and gives them a unique insight into the highest possible level of a charity from the beginning".

SImilarly Steve Wiggins, director of human resources at Prince's Trust stated that when he sees that someone has been a trustee on their CV “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. I draw from it that they will have picked up new skills such as decision-making and judgement.”

Read the full article here. 

What are the common skills trustees develop?

This is really dependent on the role you have, the board you’re on, and the focus you take. Some of the common skills trustees mention are:

  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Time management and managing competing priorities
  • Communication Skills
  • Handling difficult conversations
  • Decision making

Where can I read real life examples of how young trustees have gained from being a trustee?

Read our member spotlight stories on our blog to hear firsthand the impact being a trustee had on Leon, Jonathan and Ellie’s careers and personal life. They all mention different things they’ve gained - from leadership skills to networking, team work to friendships.

If you want to find out more, re-watch our Q&A about this topic with Ellie Harding on our YouTube here. Ellie offers more in depth answers and a different perspective on the questions asked.

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