Volunteer Centre News Update – week beginning 7 November 2022
Welcome to the latest edition of the Volunteer Centre News Update. Remember that you can contact us with your thoughts and ideas about what you would like to see here. Your feedback is always appreciated.
This week’s update is all about trustees and trusteeship. If you are reading this, you probably know how challenging it can be to find trustees. There are all kinds of reasons why finding trustees can be difficult, and we at the Volunteer Centre are always looking for ways to overcome those barriers.
Trustees’ Week is a time for us to come together to celebrate the achievements of nearly 1 million trustees across the UK.
The theme this year is ‘making a difference in changing times’. As our external environment continues to change, we face new challenges. The positive impact you make as a trustee is invaluable to a sector that is now as important as ever to benefit society. Thank you for the time, commitment and effort you bring to your charities to help them thrive. (Taken from the Trustees’ Week website).
Hop on over to our social media channels, Facebook and Twitter, to see some videos that we have produced to focus on trustees, what they do, and why it’s a great idea for people to become trustees themselves.
We want to raise awareness of what it means to be a trustee, and hopefully bust some of the myths around being a trustee that can sometimes prevent people from pursuing it as a volunteer role.
All of our Trustees’ Week content is collected under the hashtag #LDCVSTrusteeWeek, so please go take a look and share, share, share!
We plan to create more video content around volunteer roles in the future, so if you have some ideas, let us know.
Current Trustee Roles
We have a number of organisations registered with us that are right now looking for new trustees. You could really help them find some brilliant new trustees by sharing this information with your own networks, your staff members, your own volunteers, your family, and your friends. DID YOU KNOW – most people find their ideal volunteering role through word of mouth!
A Breath for Life
Lancashire Youth Challenge
Morecambe Bay Pulmonary Fibrosis Support Group
Visit our website for every opportunity, and if you don’t see something that strikes a chord with you, let us know. Just because an organisation isn’t actively recruiting new trustees doesn’t mean they wouldn’t welcome new people on their board.
Meet Some Trustees
Some trustees from the organisations above kindly joined us to discuss how they got involved in trustee work. You can watch the video below.
Trustees come from all walks of life, and get involved in the work that they do for a multitude of reasons.
Some want to share their skills and experience, some want to gain new skills and experience! Some have a passion for the work because they have personal experience of the services being delivered, while others have none and are just interested in the work.
Something that all trustees share, however, is a commitment to making people’s lives better.
We went on to discuss what their roles involve:
These experiences represent a small part of the kinds of things that trustees do. Sometimes, even paid staff at an organisation aren’t sure what their trustees do! Reach Volunteering, the leading skills-based volunteering charity and the UK’s single biggest source of trustees for the voluntary sector, put it like this:
A trustee’s role in a charity is to be the ‘guardians of purpose’, making sure that all decisions put the needs of the beneficiaries first.
They safeguard the charity’s assets – both physical assets, including property, and intangible ones, such as its reputation. They make sure these are used well and that the charity is run sustainably.
You may find some of Reach Volunteering’s guides, such as recruiting digital trustees, helpful and you can see them HERE.
As a trustee you might be chair, treasurer, secretary, take a lead on fundraising, staff and volunteer wellbeing, events, social get togethers, social media, promotions and marketing, the website, anything that meets your interests, skills, and experience. Or you may attend meetings, vote where necessary, and support other trustees, staff, and volunteers with their roles.
Being a trustee offers a host of opportunities to be involved almost as much or as little as you want to, or can, be. And it can be an enjoyable experience, as discussed here:
The Charity Commission has produced some guidance for new and existing trustees called The Essential Trustee, which provides comprehensive guidance.
If you want to talk anything through, contact the CVS team. And be sure to check out our social media channels on Twitter and Facebook for the culmination of our video series on trustees. You can find all of our Trustees’ Week content under the hashtag #LDCVSTrusteeWeek.
Training and Learning Opportunities around Trusteeship
Are you interested in exploring trusteeship? Getting Onboard is a national organisation that supports people to become charity trustees, particularly those who are currently under-represented on trustee boards.
The aspiring trustees they support include ‘young people, women, people of colour, disabled people, LGBTQ+ people, working class people, and people with lived experience of disenfranchisement’. Getting Onboard offers a range of support and has an upcoming online session aimed at potential trustees called “What is a Trustee, and How do I Become One?”.
This FREE one-hour webinar takes place on Monday 5th December, 6pm until 7pm, and will give you an introduction into what trustees are, what they do and give you some top tips on how you become one. You can book HERE.
Lancaster District CVS can support you with your training needs. If you would like to discuss training, for your trustees, staff, or other volunteers, contact the team via our website: https://lancastercvs.org.uk/contact-us/
Jim Mitchell, like many trustees, started as a traditional volunteer, supporting local peer support organisation SAFE. He now acts as an advisor, supporting the organisation with its strategic goals, and ensuring that they continue to be able to
“I really loved the organisation,” explains Jim. “I needed a meaningful activity in my life after a period of change. I had volunteered with them and was approached to help on a more strategic level, probably due to my good admin skills!”
Something that concerned Jim at the start was the extra commitment that might be needed as a trustee, over and above the more service-level volunteering that he had been doing. “Although it is a serious commitment, that shouldn’t put people off,” he says. “I was able to work on things I enjoyed and play to my strengths. Trusteeship offers a level of flexibility and opportunity which is rare in a formal, employed role.”
Jim’s time as a trustee saw him attending regular meetings, as well as networking and representing the organisation at meetings and events. He spent quite a lot of time looking for funding opportunities, and proofreading funding bids. “Don’t underestimate the importance of having someone else read through your work before submission!” he says, and we concur!
There is much to enjoy about being a trustee. For Jim is was the opportunity to develop skills. “I’ve definitely improved my CV,” he says, “and at the same time have had a positive impact on the people we work with.”
But, as with all volunteering roles, there are challenges. “You have to be quite self-directed,” explains Jim. “It will take some discipline but it’s so worth it. A trustee has to keep the organisation going so a lot can fall to you – you have to be ready to pick up the slack.”
Trustees can bring a wealth of experience and expertise. But it is a misconception that to be a trustee you need qualifications, past experience, or even to be retired. Trustees bring their own unique perspectives and lived experiences, and harnessing that, making sure everyone gets their chance to shine and keeping everything running, is a wonderful challenge, unlike most other jobs.
It is sometimes forgotten that trustees are volunteers. When you become a volunteer, you often think in terms of a few hours a week, every week, but there are more obligations as a trustee. Often you have more seniority than even the managers of the organisation, so you truly are representing it. You need to know your polices front to back, as well as what your organisational purpose is and how everything runs.
“SAFE is always looking to expand and this requires some business acumen,” says Jim as he explains why the organisation is looking for new trustees. “Ultimately we want to help more people through our work.” There are so many ways for trustees to bring their talents and skills to the role, from financial and operational, to volunteer supervision. Everyone can find
Jim has some great tips for anyone considering becoming a trustee – or even for someone who hasn’t considered it; maybe this will give you some ideas. He says “have an informal chat first before you decide on anything. Decide if this is the right thing for you. You’ll get so much more from it if you know it is going to give you a new skill or perhaps you have a pet passion you’ve always wanted to try out. Only then should you agree to it.”
And Jim is right. Becoming a trustee can be a significant commitment, but if you go into it with the right understanding it can be incredibly rewarding. When organisations look for new trustees, they will usually be more than happy to have an informal chat, to invite you along to a meeting so that you can see how everything works, show you around the organisation and let you get a good feel for what they do and whether it connects with you, your interests, and what you can offer.
So do pick up that phone, even if you are interested in being a trustee for an organisation that doesn’t seem to be currently looking for new blood, because most organisations will be happy to hear from you. Speak to the CVS team, because we can put you in contact with organisations in need but we can also talk you through the roles and responsibilities of trusteeship and answer any burning questions that you might have – maybe even put to rest some concerns and reservations.
Jim is proud to have made a meaningful impact on people’s lives. “It really helps to pick an organisation whose values match your own. Remember your own passions, work to your very best ability, and surprise yourself!”
If you would like to know more about being a trustee, what it involves, how you can get involved, what training and support might be available – anything at all – then contact Mark by email at [email protected] or call our office on 01524 555900.
You may just want to use it as a simple promotional tool for your volunteer roles, and that’s just fine. We currently see a lot of visits to this site from people looking for new volunteering opportunities, and of course once it is on the site our Volunteer Centre team will be able to promote your roles in person when meeting potential volunteers, at events, on our social media, and in this bulletin!
Using our platform, volunteers can: apply for or join opportunities; create a profile; track achievements; add CPD and qualifications; track opportunities attended; log hours. They can search for opportunities by keyword; categories; activities; distance and dates, and more.
Organisations can: create an organisation profile; create opportunities; manage unlimited volunteers; group volunteers; request references; access automated emails; upload documents; restrict opportunities; share the opportunity onto social media; link externally to your own website, and more.
If you need support with any aspect of volunteering or volunteer recruitment, from developing a policy to creating an impactful role description, or if you want to have something featured in this newsletter, please contact Mark Waddington either by telephone on 01524 555900 or by email at [email protected].