Back in February I wrote a blog about AVECO’s report on ‘The Commission on Youth Unemployment’. Since then, I have kept an eye out for interesting responses to the ‘crisis’. One such blog was recently posted on the Guardian’s Voluntary Sector Network Blog by Ian Joseph (Director, Trustees Unlimited).
The piece considers the role of young charity trustees. Entitled ‘Young Charity Trustees: What you need to know’, Joseph highlights that young volunteers often overlook opportunities within the charity sector, specifically the role of Trustees. As he quite rightly states, young people are often under-represented on the charity board…’ just 2.1% of UK Trustees are under 30 years of age’. According to Joseph, barriers to trusteeship for young people include a lack of knowledge regarding Trustee opportunities, what the role entails and a feeling of being inexperienced for the job.
In my experience, trusteeships are often considered to be an elite position for those individuals with a wealth of experience and insight. However, we must remember that young people will be the future face of the charity sector and as such, charities should be playing their part in training and engaging with young people. A fresh and young outlook on a board would not be a bad thing!
Personally, I am very interested to explore the opportunities to become a trustee. I wondered how my peers at Cause4 felt on the subject:
I really like the idea of being a Trustee, but only if my perspective is going to be useful to the charity. I wouldn’t want to be a token young person who wasn’t offering anything else.
I think it is important for charities to make more of their opportunities for trustees. Many young people are not aware of the opportunities which are out there. I am sure that their increased involvement would benefit charities, who are often in need of a fresh, young perspective, whilst also allowing the young trustees to gain unique insight into the work of the third sector.
The problem stems from the lack of communication and understanding around the trustee positions that need filling. Trusteeships are historically associated with established professionals who have years of work experience – in the new digital era young people have so much to offer the third sector and charities need to be more proactive in attracting them.
If charities are crying out for young Trustees and young people are interesting in pursuing this venture then let’s make this call to action reality and create the next generation of Trustees…
Let me know your thoughts – are you a young volunteer looking to become a Trustee? Perhaps you are serving on a board and could let us know your experiences?
I would also be interested to hear charity perspectives on this? Would your charity be open to employing young talent on your board?