I have spoken to a number of people interested in becoming a charity trustee. There are two common questions:
- What exactly is a trustee?
- Have I really got the experience to contribute?
I won’t dwell on the first question too much, as other blogs cover it – as does extensive information online (I would recommend ‘The Essential Trustee’.
However, the second question is probably a simpler answer than most people expect.
When people think of boards, they often think of highly qualified professionals in formal attire sitting around a table and talking about complex issues. Professionals who ‘know their stuff’. This means a lot of people – regardless of age – are nervous about what they would bring to a board of trustees. The truth is that these fears are missing the point.
The most effective charity boards I have seen have trustees who are inquisitive. Trustees who ask questions and ask for clarity. These questions are crucial to picking up on things that might otherwise have been missed, or to thinking of new ways of working – and it absolutely does not need to be heavily experienced individuals asking the questions. Indeed, the most effective boards I have seen are genuinely diverse. Diverse in terms of level of experience, background, interests, you name it. What is important is that Trustees can offer different perspectives.
So, what do you need to be an effective trustee? I would say:
- A willingness to speak up – the ability to ask questions and challenge the status quo
- A curiosity in the charity and its strategy
- A real desire to make a difference to the charity and its beneficiaries
Despite how it may be coming across, I am not saying that boards don’t need expertise. They definitely do. Indeed, varied experience across the board is crucial to effective governance. However, what I am saying is that to become a trustee, you don’t need to know it all. At the age of 24, I myself can absolutely not pretend to know even close to ‘it all’. As the title says, if you have the desire to make a difference, you’re almost certainly more qualified to be a trustee than you might think.
Being a trustee is a responsible role. It can at times be challenging, and issues you may not have seen before will often come up. But if you’re passionate and interested – and most importantly willing to speak up and contribute – you can be in no doubt that you will be an asset to the board. The British Youth Council has the most welcoming and supportive board you could ask for, so don’t shy away from applying if you’re interested in becoming a trustee.
We are currently looking for people with experience in people, change management, finance and risk for our ongoing appointment round. As is the theme throughout this blog, this experience can come in different shapes and sizes. You may have gained experience through volunteering, or through school or university. You may have a part-time or full-time job that deals with related issues. If this sounds like you, we would be keen to hear from you and hear a bit more about what you might have to offer as well as why you might want to support the British Youth Council.
If you would like to join our Board of Trustees, find out more. And if you’re still having doubts, why not reach out to a trustee for a chat?
The word ‘diversity’ can trigger a whole spectrum of emotions and thoughts. For many people from underrepresented backgrounds it often induces feelings of skepticism. Many organisations come out claiming to want more ‘diversity’ and that they appreciate ‘diversity’ but a lot of the time it can be perceived as insincere and merely a box ticking exercise, especially when they have a poor track record on taking action against inequalities. In these circumstances, diversity is superficial and is not embedded into the organisation’s strategy and culture. Most of the focus is on bringing ‘diversity’ in, and organisations often forget about the important steps; how do we make sure that these voices are: heard and empowered, have the influence to make meaningful change and actually feel safe and valued in this space.
The British Youth Council have always been ahead of the curve when taking action on inequalities. Our young people are so passionate about fighting injustices and over the years we have supported them to do amazing things such as: speaking out on trans rights in healthcare and health inequalities, supporting an LGBT-inclusive curriculum, supporting ethnic minorities, disabled, LGBT+, women and faith group liberation campaigns through Equality for Us, calling for an end to anti-Black police brutality and to violence against young women and girls.
As the British Youth Council’s lead representatives, the Board of Trustees, are responsible for guiding the strategic direction of the charity. Fighting inequalities is very important to our members and so we must insure that it is reflected in our Board and in our strategy.
The Board has been on a journey in improving representation. In previous years it was heavily male dominated, now the majority of the board are women. However we know we must do more. The goal is to ensure our Board is continuously reflective of the diverse mix of identities and backgrounds we have at membership level. We are looking inward to make sure our policies and processes are inclusive so it is a safe and empowering space for everyone.
At the British Youth Council we are not just saying we want more ‘diversity’, we have looked at our Board and reflected on who are the underrepresented groups and we have clearly stated who we think are missing at the table. We welcome applications from all eligible young people, and this year we are particularly keen to receive applications from young people who:
- are aged 16 to 21;
- live in Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland;
- Identify as having a disability or life limiting condition.
- Identify as Black, Asian or from a minoritised ethnic community.
- Identify as LGBTQ+
As a Black woman applying to be on the Board last year, seeing a majority white board and being the only Black person running for a trustee position I had concerns around the work done on inequalities at the highest level of the charity and concerns around having the ability to be successful in the recruitment process. I am now more aware of the great work done at membership level and how well the staff support our members. However I know that it is not enough and we must continuously work towards making sure all levels of the organisation is representative. The Board is passionate about this issue too and we hope that this year we can make more progress towards improving representation as well by embedding this work in our strategy. Overall, we can continue being a charity that is ahead of the curve on fighting against inequalities.
If you would like to join our Board of Trustees, find out more here: https://www.byc.org.uk/members/trustee-recruitment
The deadline for all applications is Monday 21st June 2021
The British Youth Council has launched a new call for young people to put themselves forward to be the next cohort of UK Young Ambassadors for the European Structured Dialogue. Through this programme young people from across the four nations of the UK can represent the views of their peers to UK and European youth policy makers. UK Young Ambassadors will be in post for 18 months to follow the next cycle of the process, undertaking consultations with young people across the UK and feeding into European policy conferences.
“I’ve got so much out of being a UK Young Ambassador,” said Bronagh Hughes, outgoing UK Young Ambassador on the Structured Dialogue programme. “I’ve had the chance to develop my knowledge of youth policy in both the UK and across Europe, develop skills in consultation and research, as well as having the chance to develop new friendships across Europe. It’s been an absolutely fantastic programme to be involved in and I would really recommend it to anyone who has an interest in youth policy.”
Applications are open now and close on 6th January 2018. Find out more.