Where are all the Young Trustees?

Taken on Trust research published by the Charity Commission shows that 92% of trustees in England and Wales have an average age of 55-64 rising to 65-74 in smaller charities. A huge swathe of the population (and potentially your organisation’s beneficiaries) is simply not being represented on Boards nationwide.

If you are looking to diversify your Charity Board (and many charities are or should be considering this), then trying to attract younger trustees should be at the top of your priorities. Younger trustees can provide fresh perspectives, including different lived experiences, complementary skills and, in many cases, bucketloads of enthusiasm! So, with trustee vacancies at record highs, how can you increase your chances of attracting a younger trustee to your Board?

Here are 10 top tips:

  1. Prepare your Board. Is your Board ready and willing to welcome a new member who may be significantly younger than them onto the trustee team? If not, ensure this is addressed before you start to recruit.
  2. Use Open Recruitment (where the Board seeks and invites applications from the ‘open market’). As a Board, you would not just be looking for new trustees amongst your friends/colleagues/other people you know well.
  3. Carry out a Skills Audit. This allows you review the skills and experience you already have and where you are lacking. Ideally, your new trustee will help to fill this gap.
  4. Ensure your advert is tailored to a younger audience. Wording such as this is ideal: “It is not necessary to have previous board committee experience as training will be provided. This position would therefore suit an individual taking their first steps to develop wider board level and governance experience”.
  5. Consider if you need a paper advert at all. Could you make a video and post it on your social media instead?
  6. Advertise in new places. Are there places which your ideal trustee frequents such as the university library? You can also use third party recruitment websites to advertise your role such as Charterpath or Reach Volunteering.
  7. Think about the interview setting, timing and process. Is this accessible for all? Is this intimidating in any way? This doesn’t need to be a formal interview-a coffee and a chat, or a video call can work if this is appropriate for your charity.
  8. Consider if Board meeting times need to be reviewed. Are these accessible for people who work full time, have families and/or are in education?
  9. Consider your expenses policy. Younger trustees may be more likely to need to claim expenses than some older trustees. Ensure you have an expenses policy which everyone is aware of and follows to claim. Even where you have a policy, a trustee may feel awkward claiming expenses if other trustees forego their entitlement.
  10. Think about what your new trustee may need when they join. They may require more initial support than an older trustee if this is their first Board role. Think about the training or mentoring you can provide so they can get the most from the role as possible.

 

If you’d like to read further on this area, the Young Trustees Movement is a good place to start. If you need help getting started with trustee recruitment, then please contact VODA, we can offer support, advice, and training to your VCSE group. Please contact our Core Services Team by telephone on 0191 643 2626 or by email on [email protected].

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