This year, Trustees' Week is celebrated from 1st to 5th November. It is our chance to bring these valuable members of charitable organisations into the spotlight, highlight the important work that they do, wholeheartedly thank them for it and encourage others to take on the challenge.
From the smallest groups to big-name charities, trustees play a vital role in the way a charity is run. LCF has some incredible trustees who are passionate about London and our communities – many of whom have lived here their whole lives! They work with our staff to shape the organisation, and we are extremely grateful for their support and guidance. Find out more about our Board here.
Becoming a trustee is an exciting opportunity to make a difference in society and your local community. It can be a hugely rewarding and important role as well as an opportunity to share your strengths and knowledge for a good cause. Even if you are completely new to the charity sector, becoming a trustee is a way to gain new skills and experiences.
What does being a trustee mean to you?
LCF staff members are encouraged to play an active volunteer role in local organisations. Many members of our team have experience on the boards of other grassroots and community groups themselves. We asked what inspired them to become a trustee, what they enjoy most about it and what advice they would give to a budding trustee.
I became a trustee as I felt there was a lot I could give – in terms of my skillsets and knowledge in grant-making and place-based giving – to each of these organisations, to make their grant distribution have a more impactful effect on my local community.Helen Angharad Fagan, Head of Grants & Impact
"The experience assisted me in my knowledge of organisations operating in a specific geographic area to London. It linked up with my position as a taskforce leader for Hammersmith & Fulham Goodgym to know where volunteers were required with the organisations that we supported. That way, we are able to send along some people power to assist. It also gave me a better knowledge of governance and financial issues that boards of small organisations grapple with to assist my grant-making processes and assessments at work."
I think the main things you need to be a trustee are time to give, commitment and openness to helping and being supportive.Laura Perkins, Director of Development & Communications
Laura is a trustee for Carers Hub, a Lambeth-based charity providing services for carers in the borough. This is her first trustee role but she says she can already feel the benefits for herself and the charity:
“During the pandemic I became increasingly aware of the challenges facing my local community and I wanted to try and use my skills and time to help. I didn’t really know where to start, but after a bit of googling I found an advert from a local charity called Carers Hub in Lambeth that was looking for trustees. I had never been a trustee before, but after meeting the Carers Hub team I was inspired by the work they were doing to support local people who look after someone they care about. I have been a trustee for over a year now and I get so much out of it myself whilst also helping the charity.”
There are some amazing charities and social enterprises with phenomenal boards, regardless of their size. And in my experience – as a volunteer trustee you always learn.Kate Markey, CEO
Prior to her role as CEO of The London Community Foundation, Kate sat on the board of various charities. She shared her thoughts on what it means to be a trustee and the lesser-known challenges:
"Being a trustee helps your own organisation. You understand much more effectively about governance of charity and the building blocks of good governance.
It also allows you to develop a different kind of influence – from a non-executive perspective. You can’t jump into the operations, that’s not your role as a Board member. You are there to challenge, steer, to hold to account, to support and guide. Sometimes it is tough to resist the temptation to jump into the detail.
You also understand the purpose of individual and collective responsibility. As a trustee you are legally obliged to put the interests of the charity first, not your personal interests. Sometimes this can be really challenging but a great way to learn and develop."
Tips for first-time trustees
If you’re thinking about becoming a trustee but aren’t sure where to start, here are some helpful pointers:
- Look at the Charity Governance Code for Boards – it’s a great benchmark of what good governance looks like: Home — Charity Governance Code
- Look at the fundamental legal duties of a trustee as defined by the Charity Commission: The essential trustee: what you need to know, what you need to do - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Remember it is a long-term commitment – look at the articles of association of the charity. Many have 3 x 3-year terms (though typically most trustees serve 2 x 3-year terms).
- Ensure you have the time to commit – good governance is about engaged trustees, who are active and proactive and are clear they are there to add value (not add the charity to their CV!).
- Ask a friend – charities may come in different shapes and sizes but often the challenges and benefits of being a trustee (and reporting to a board of trustees) are the same.
- Find out what kind of trustee you are by taking this short Trustees Week quiz!
You can also take a look at these trustee job sites (recommended by Trustees Week):
- Academy Ambassadors
- Do it.org’s Trustee Finder
- Getting on Board
- The Guardian jobs
- ICAEW volunteers (for Chartered Accountants)
- Reach Volunteering
- Step on Board (for Corporate board level volunteering)
- Trustees Unlimited
- Inspiring Governance (for school governors and trustees)
Become a trustee for The London Community Foundation
Last but not least, we are currently recruiting for two trustees (finance and investment) to join the LCF Board. Successful candidates will be deeply invested in London, its diversity and its communities. Previous experience as a charity trustee is not essential and we are committed to investing in training and support for candidates at the start of their trustee journey, or those who have additional needs to ensure they can contribute fully.