Trustees’ Week 2023 is upon us, and it’s the perfect occasion to acknowledge and celebrate the incredible individuals who play a vital role in steering the success of charities and nonprofit organisations across Southwark.
The role of a Trustee isn’t always obvious and for some, thinking about becoming a trustee can be intimidating. In this article, one of our brilliant Community Southwark trustees, Cedric, breaks down what trustees do and answers some questions about what being a trustee means to him.
What were your ideas about what trustees do before you became one?
Before becoming a trustee, my ideas about this role were a little limited.
I had previously been a School Parent Governor, representing the interests of parents and the local community, within my children’s primary school.
Contributing to the strategic direction of the school and overseeing policy development, ensuring the school operates in the best interest of the pupils.
“When I was invited to be a trustee, I thought that trustees were only responsible for the financial aspects of an organisation, such as managing funds and ensuring budgets were adhered to. However, I soon realised that being a trustee entails much more.”
In both roles they involve governance, as a trustee you are responsible for the overall governance of an organisation, making strategic decisions, and ensuring that the organisation fulfils its mission and objectives, while complying with its legal and regulatory requirements.
What’s the best thing about being a trustee?
For me the best thing about being a trustee is the opportunity to make a real difference in the community or cause(s) you care about. As a trustee, you have the chance to contribute your skills, knowledge, and expertise to help shape the direction and impact of an organisation.
“It’s a fulfilling role where you can actively contribute to positive change and see the impact of your efforts.”
How have you brought your personal and professional experience to your trustee role?
Bringing personal and professional experience to the trustee role can be immensely valuable. I have brought my personal skills and expertise into my trustee role by actively participating in discussions, sharing different perspectives, and contributing to decision-making processes. Additionally, my professional experience has helped me provide insights on areas like organisational development, financial management, and strategic planning, policies updates which are crucial for the success of the organisation I serve as a trustee.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in becoming a trustee?
If you are interested in becoming a trustee, and it is not my intention sound all preaching and trait but the key pieces of advice for yourself:
a. Identify your passion:
“Choose a cause or organisation that you genuinely care about. Being passionate about the mission and work of the organisation will drive your commitment and motivation as a trustee.”
b. Research and learn:
Take the time to understand the organisation you’re considering joining. Research its mission, values, strategic goals, and the impact it has in the community. This will give you a better understanding of the organisation’s needs and how you can contribute effectively.
c. Assess your skills:
Assess your own skills, expertise, and experiences. Consider how they align with the needs of the organisation. Identifying your strengths will allow you to bring meaningful value to the trustee role.
d. Get involved:
Start by volunteering or participating in the organisation’s activities to gain first-hand experience. This will help you better understand the organisation’s culture and dynamics, as well as the challenges and opportunities it faces.
e. Network and connect:
Build connections with existing trustees, staff members, and volunteers. Engage in conversations to learn more about their experiences and the responsibilities of being a trustee. Networking can also help you find trustee opportunities that match your interests and skills.
f. Seek training and support:
I haven’t been very good at taking up the trustee training opportunities, that is because of my own time and capacity. I have relied on references, “The Good Trustee Guide” is helpful and easy to read. I would encourage any trustees to attend training programs or workshops to enhance your understanding of governance, legal obligations, and best practices for trustees. Equally, important any opportunities to be part of the charity staff and trustees away days – DOIT!
“Don’t be afraid to seek learning or guidance from experienced trustees who can offer valuable insights and advice.”
A massive thank you to Cedric for his time and thoughts on being a trustee, and a huge thank you to all of Community Southwark’s trustees. We couldn’t do it without you and we appreciate every minute of your time!
If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a trustee in Southwark, get in touch with email@example.com for advice and guidance,