Young Trustees – Are We Really Doing Enough?
25 March 2019 | By Cause4 staff
This month, Tate announced the appointment of 28-year-old Anna Lowe as the new Youth Engagement Trustee and the youngest serving Trustee of a national UK museum or gallery.
This call to embrace younger voices in governance positions is not new. There are increasing numbers of young Trustees between the ages of 18 and 26 joining Charity Trustee Boards as part of key initiatives such as The Young Trustees Project and Young Charity Trustees.
However, Lowe's appointment marks an opportunity to re-open the discussion and a reminder that even our largest national organisations can benefit from young Trustees. So what do some of the youngest members of the Cause4 team think of this highly publicised position?
Laura Gabe – Development Coordinator – Non-Executive Director – Age 24
The increased press around the Tate Board announcement and its new young people programme allows us to remind Charities why it is so important to engage young people! Reach Volunteering explained that Charities benefit from Young Trustees as they can: provide a different insight, new ideas and perspective, engage younger people with the charity’s activities, provide useful insight on beneficiary needs and experience, bring enthusiasm to the role and are often keen to develop their existing skills.
Rising Arts Agency, for which I am the Non-Executive Director and Co-Creator has always ensured that it is led by young people. Since the launch of the Youth Advisory Board in 2016, now 64% of Rising’s leadership is under 25! It really is an organisation with young people at its heart. On the flip side, young people gain invaluable skills development in leadership, finance management, confidence and charity sector and business knowledge. Encouraging young leaders to take ownership of their skills and positions as Trustees allows them to engage on a more impactful level and gives them a step up for future employment opportunities.
With 29.43% of the UK population under the age of 25 – lets utilise them and train them to become the leaders of the future! Resources such as the Charities Commission’s checklist on Finding and Supporting Young Trustees have given organisations no excuse for not engaging young people.
Poppy Facer – Development Associate – Aspiring Trustee – Age 23
I think that it’s really brilliant to see leading national organisations, recognising the need to welcome people with a more diverse range of voices, backgrounds, experiences – and in this case, ages - into leadership and governance positions. However, I also think it’s important that we do not simply congratulate Tate for having the youngest serving Trustee of any national UK museum or gallery and move on.
I recently attended the Institute of Fundraising’s Cultural Sector Network Conference, 2019 which opened and closed with poignant discussions about diversity. Something that has stuck with me was the notion that embracing diversity is not just about the diversity of the people we have inside the building. It’s also about what happens next – it’s about what opportunities those people are given to implement positive change; whether they feel the alternative viewpoints they provide are valued; and whether their contributions are acted upon.
Therefore, what is important to me is to see how Anna Lowe’s appointment impacts the work going on at the Tate and prompts the rest of our national institutions to consider whose voices are being heard at their own Board meetings.
Annie Jarvis – Senior Development Manager – Trustee – Age 27
On the one hand it is brilliant to see a nationally recognised institution taking youth board engagement seriously. To have the youngest serving board-member at a UK National Museum is no doubt significant for the sector – and a step forward in terms of board diversity, especially considering the average age of Trustees in the UK is 57. The Tate Collective, which seeks to bring to light the views of the ‘next generation’ and has engaged over 60,000 16-25-year old’s in the last 11-months alone is also a clear indicator that this sector is moving in the right direction.
Yet underneath this highly publicised story lies a concerning fact about the UK’s Charity Boards, as a mere 0.5% of Trustees are between the age of 18-24. Despite the fact that over 450,000 people aged 16-24 are running their own businesses the views of younger people are still not being taken seriously enough within the charity sector, and it is high time we change our attitudes so that more people like Anna Lowe can contribute their skills as charity Trustees.
The Trustee Leadership Programme, run in partnership with Cause4 and Close Brothers Asset Management, seeks to reach out to the younger generation, encouraging participants of all ages to take their first step towards joining a Board. It's a brilliant opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds and a great way to give you the skills and confidence you need to become a charity Trustee.