Leadership and Charities – how Young Trustees can make their mark
Recently I had breakfast with a great fellow young British leader called Alex. He works in the NGO sector and runs a network supporting young people looking to move into voluntary sector governance positions. His outlook and knowledge on this very focused agenda I found very refreshing. See below for the awesome blog post Alex penned exclusively for Dare2Lead News. I also serve as a Trustee for other charities, and thoroughly recommend getting involved!
“Like Dare2Lead, I believe deeply in the benefits of instilling leadership in young people, that why I set up Young Charity Trustees (YCT) http://youngcharitytrustees.org/ “
“A few years ago, I became a Trustee for a charity that supports people with learning disabilities and their families, Centre 404 http://www.centre404.org.uk/ I found it an amazing way to get involved in my local community, to make a contribution and to learn new skills, particularly those relating to leadership, governance and decision-making. I was amazed to find that an incredibly low number of young people are Trustees and that even fewer realise it is possible to take up such positions. The average age of Trustees in England and Wales is a frankly scandalous 57 years.”
“The point of Young Charity Trustees is to both encourage young people to take on Trustee roles and to support the small number who already sit on Boards. We also strive to show charities that bringing in young people to leadership positions is of benefit to them.”
“I run the organisation in my spare time, with the kind help of volunteers and have so far been extremely encouraged by the response both from young people and from charities. I have found that charities are interested in supporting young people to be trustees but that they aren’t confident about how to do so, or think that they lack the time or resources to attract them. I have found young people with real passion for a wide range of charitable causes and who have a host of dazzling skills that charities would love. Until we are able to speak to them, many of these young people are unsure of their suitability for Trustee roles, or, even more frequently, completely unaware that they are ‘allowed’ to be involved.”
“At a time when jobs are scarce and adding relevant experience to a CV is a constant challenge for young people, a Trustee position can really make a difference. In my Trustee role for example I have scrutinised budgets, set the pay of staff, pored over architectural plans, helped grill bank managers, worked on strategy and reviewed the work of every team in the organisation. The bonus is that I have been able to do this for a charity that I really believe in, for a cause I care deeply about and that in my paid job at my age I would have not had the opportunity to get involved at such a senior level.”
“Another positive about being a Trustee is that I believe it encourages ethical leadership. Trustees have a great responsibility to some extremely vulnerable people who rely on their charity for support. Of course, Trustees aren’t perfect but we are supporting organisations to better deliver services which affect the lives of real people, every day. There is sometimes an awful lot of negative rubbish written about young people. Some say that young people don’t care, others that we are lazy, or irresponsible, or that we don’t contribute to society. Out there right now there are incredible young people doing inspirational things to help others. I want to show them that Trusteeship should be an option that they consider. For if not them, then who? We have seen what happens when we let others take decisions without regard for the weak and the voiceless. Leadership is crucial at this time, and it will always be hugely important, to charities no less than to other areas of civic life. “
“If anyone feels Trusteeship might be for them or would like to find out more, please get in touch with YCT.”
Alex Swallow, Founder, Young Charity Trustees.