Why you should become a charity Trustee

At VAST we are always keen to make sure we have the best possible governance in place and are constantly reviewing both the needs of our organisation and the makeup of our board of trustees.  This means we regularly have opportunities for new board members, and we want to make sure that the board is made up of people who represent and care about our city and the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector within it.

Before we dive into the role and responsibilities of a Trustee, we’re going to tell you why it’s a great idea to join a board of Trustees. Maybe that will be VAST’s board of Trustees, or maybe another organisation is best suited to your skills and passions…

Why should I become a Trustee?

The role of a Trustee is usually a voluntary one, but what it lacks in salary, it makes up for in reward.

A board of Trustees does have a responsibility in the operation of a charity or community group but don’t let this put you off – there are so many benefits to becoming a Trustee, including proven benefits of volunteering in general like boosting your confidence and self-esteem; reducing stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression; having a sense of purpose and fulfilment; and that warm and fuzzy feeling of knowing you’re doing something good.

In addition, the direct benefits of being a trustee include but are not limited to:

  • You can “give something back” to society in a meaningful way.
  • You’ll be addressing  real needs that affect real people  in your communities.
  • It can increase your professional prospects and enhance your CV.
  • You can develop your skills, knowledge, and experience in a difference context.
  • You’ll meet new people and that can be great for professional and personal networking.

Working as part of a diverse team, you will learn from the experiences of others and come to respect and value a wide range of views and opinions. Your position as a board member will enable you to introduce new people to your organisation bringing more resources and new strategies to a cause that’s close to your heart.

Professionally, being a part of a board of Trustees will enhance your CV through unique, hands-on experience in a new context, developing your skills and knowledge in areas such as negotiation, decision-making, managing people and relationships, and strategic thinking. It is also an excellent way to gain improve your professional networks and gain valuable leadership and board experience, which could potentially lead you towards new professional opportunities.

Get involved in crucial conversations…

By getting involved in the conversations that are vital to supporting communities you will gain a unique understanding of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, how it operates, the importance of cross-sector collaborative working and, most importantly, how crucial the sector is to the people it supports. Without the charities, community groups, and charitable organisations that support them, local people would not be able to access basic services and essential support. There would be no food banks, no support groups, no volunteers… no groups and services that are, more often than not, a lifeline to many.

At VAST, we believe that the voluntary sector Boards across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire should reflect the communities they serve so that the board, those making the decisions, fully understand the issues in their communities and the challenges they face. A well-represented and diverse board of trustees; a board with community knowledge and lived experience, are best placed to make the important decisions about their organisation, the support they provide, and how that support is delivered to the people who need it, driving real change in society. That means people like you. You understand the issues in your community, and you can make a real difference.

Empower people and communities…

By volunteering as a Trustee, you can give something back to society in a meaningful way, using your knowledge, skills, and experience to help people in need, make a difference and having a positive impact, helping to build a stronger, more resilient society, ready for the challenges life brings. With targeted services supported by a diverse board of trustees, your lived experience, empathy, and understanding will be a huge contribution to the development of projects and strategies that will strengthen communities and empower people to take control of their lives.

As an active member of the community on the board, you know your community best. Who better than you to help shape the vital support it needs?

Make meaningful connections…

There is no better way of meeting new people than by engaging with people in your community, getting to know them, introducing yourself to the experiences that being an active part of your community will provide.

In a professional capacity you will be able to add your own skills, knowledge, and experiences to a pool of resources tailored to serve the community in the best way possible. You’ll also become a part of a network of influence that goes both ways, and crucially, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to bring your personal and professional connections to raise awareness and support the cause you are passionate about.

As a Trustee, you will meet people from all walks of life, all backgrounds, cultures, and with different experiences, you’ll meet diverse and interesting characters within the community and organisation, enhancing your understanding and compassion for others. The new connections you’ll make in your role of Trustee will lead to new and fulfilling friendships, professional partnerships and important networks that will benefit you in your personal and professional life.

Be Part of the Solution…

We’re all feeling the squeeze of the Cost-of-Living Crisis, especially those in our communities that are already vulnerable and struggling to access life’s essentials. There are high levels of poverty and deprivation in the area, social isolation and loneliness are rife, and there are serious inequalities throughout all of society.

Getting involved in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, becoming a Trustee, and aligning yourself with a charitable cause you will help improve the lives of vulnerable people in local communities. You’ll be making a valuable contribution to the campaign for a solution to tackling the biggest issues in society, supporting the causes that you are passionate about, and driving change in your community.

There are so many problems in today’s world, and who wouldn’t want to be part of the solution?

What about others, why do they become Trustees?

People become Trustees for all sorts of reasons but the main one is to “give something back” which can be a motivation because you want to:

  • make a difference: you’re angry at the injustices and inequalities in society and want to do something about it,
  • use your personal skills and lived experiences that you want to use to help others get through a difficult time in their lives,
  • see leadership in the voluntary sector better reflect the communities they serve and the people they support,
  • occupy your time in a way that’s both worthwhile and rewarding, or
  • take on something new and interesting while contributing and providing support that will benefit others.

“For many people, there won’t necessarily be just one motivating factor, but it’s worth taking stock of what’s driving you to explore trusteeship – it will help you find a charity that’s right for you.”

What is a Trustee and what do they do?

Trustees are hugely important to the management of charities and other voluntary sector organisations. They are responsible for ensuring good governance within an organisation, which can be a daunting prospect. But that’s where VAST can help.

We are here to help you navigate the complexities so that you can best serve your charity with confidence, ensuring that you will be complying with key requirements of the law whilst achieving your aims and benefitting your community.

“Being a trustee means making decisions that will impact on people’s lives. Depending on what the charity does, you will be making a difference to your local community or to society as a whole.”

First up – what do we mean by ‘governance’?

Governance is a term used to describe the strategic management and operations of a charity or other not-for-profit organisation, whether that’s a CIC, CIO, or social enterprise. It includes:

  • Direction – the long-term outlook for the organisation including its aims, objectives; what the organisation wants to achieve and why.
  • Effectiveness – using the organisations money, assets, and resources responsibly to achieve their aims and outcomes.
  • Supervision – ensuring the organisation follows the law, complies with relevant legislation, manages risks effectively, learns from their mistakes, and has all the necessary policies in place to be able to do so.
  • Accountability – reporting to the appropriate regulators and other interested parties; to those with an interest or ‘stake’ in the charity

And what does a Trustee have to do with governance?

A board of Trustees is responsible for ensuring that their charity or voluntary organisation complies with all the governance points above. They make the important decisions and make sure the organisation stays on track strategically, operationally, and financially. Trustees are also expected to provide advice and guidance to those running the organisation on a day-to-day basis, sharing knowledge and experience to support to the organisation to achieve its charitable objectives.

Getting Started

Becoming a VAST Trustee

Initially, you might want to have a chat about what being a VAST Trustee will involve before you apply. If you would like to speak to someone about becoming a VAST Trustee, please contact Charlotte Bennett, Strategic Projects Manager, on 01782 683030 or email [email protected].

If you would like to apply, you can complete an Expression of Interest form here before 5:00pm on Wednesday 3rd July 2024

When completing your expression of interest form, we’ll ask you about your skills. These skills don’t necessarily have to be from your professional life. In fact, your best attributes might even come from somewhere you’d never expect them to! If this doesn’t make much sense, click here find out more about identifying your skills, and to see some examples of what we mean.