Young Trustees!

It’s not all about age

Speaking to Alex Swallow, founder of Young Charity Trustees at our October Harrow Trustee Network brought home to me just how important it is to get young people to join groups as trustees. I meet groups all the time who say to me “we really need more young people like you” (great for my ego, being over 35), I really must start asking them “why?”.

“We’re all getting older” they say and it feels like often that’s the only reason they want younger people. I’ve rarely heard someone say “we need someone with skills that can help us reach out to get young people as members…. involved in our campaigns….to help us with social media”.

I became a trustee at 23 years old because I wanted management experience and I was interested in green stuff. The person who approached me said by being a trustee I could help manage an environmental watchdog. My point is that when you’re young you’re making choices that are shaping your views, your ambitions and want to be part of something worthwhile, something that can make a difference to you and maybe others too.

Young people can offer a lot as trustees. Enthusiasm, an alternative perspective on campaigns and service delivery, increase networking opportunities, harnessing technology for example. The Charity Commission wants to encourage charities to think seriously about the benefits of involving young people and says “it’s best to focus on young people’s skills and experience, rather than assuming that they “represent” their peers. It is too easy to fall into a tokenistic approach to diversity”

So, maybe it’s time to rethink your recruitment strategy for trustees. A survey carried out by Charities Aid Foundation in advance of Trustees Week shows a third of young adults would consider a trustee role. 

And don’t forget! Like all trustees they’ll need support when joining your board and if you want to retain them. So, once you have them give them an induction, invest in some trustee training, pair them for peer support with another trustee and ask them regularly if they are ok and ….and offer to pay their travel expenses.

Sarah Kersey