The Rise of the Young Trustee

8th February, 2016

One of the biggest obstacles to a flourishing charitable sector is the lack of fresh leadership talent at the governance level.  For Michelle Wright, founder and CEO of Cause4 the answer is to look beyond the traditional talent pool.

Scandals and improprieties hit the UK charity sector hard in 2015 with a 52% increase in enforcement cases by the Charity Commission. The scrutiny on each of the UK’s 165,000 charities is at an all-time high.  The Board of Trustees of any charity is responsible for its governance, compliance and sustainability.  A good Board of Trustees makes the difference between success and failure. We know that two thirds of the UK’s Trustees are aged 50 or over – that’s a lot of talented younger people that are missing from the charity boardroom.

To help encourage talented young professionals to take up Trustee roles,Cause4 has been working with Close Brothers Asset Management (CBAM) on a charity Trustee Leadership Programme for the last two years, with support from The Clothworkers’ Company. This programme encourages young professionals to become charity Trustees and trains them in the skills necessary to guide the strategic direction of a charity.

Recent participants in the Trustee Leadership Programme include Fiona McGlinchey, an Engagement Manager at Axiom.  At 33, Fiona had some experience of volunteering but had never considered becoming a Trustee.  ‘I always thought that Trustees were more senior, more experienced than myself,” she said. “But once it was explained, I thought it sounded really interesting.  I have worked as a volunteer before now but the opportunity to be on the board of Trustees gives me a big picture view.  I joined The Big Splash Trust, a charity that enables severely disabled children and their families to use hydrotherapy and other resources at Jack Tizard school. I’ve already seen the impact that the charity is making.  My advice for anyone questioning becoming a Trustee is to be realistic about the time commitment you’ll need to make but don’t be nervous about what you’ll get out of it.  You’ll get a lot – personally and also professionally.”

The Trustee Leadership Programme provides professionals interested in contributing to the charitable sector with expert training and the confidence to take on a Trustee role.  The programme covers the key regulatory and compliance requirements (Charity Commission guidance and other best practice) and is delivered by sector experts, who bring years of insight and real-world examples to the seminar based training. Foundation director Elizabeth Rantzen, the Hepworth’s Jane Marriott, and Matthew Bowcock CBE have all presented.

Delivered in a modular structure over five evenings, all modules address the central question “How can I become an effective board member?”Some 183 professionals have taken part in the course so far, mainly following a general civil society curriculum.

Charles Coldicott, 24, is now an analyst at Barclays Investment Bank. He previously worked at Close Brothers and was part of the team that helped implement Cause4’s programme for Trustee Development.  ‘Our research showed unquestionably that it was good to have young people as Trustees.  Young people are often closer to the age of the beneficiaries and can suggest action and connect to audiences that more mature Trustees might not consider.”  Charles had worked as a volunteer previously, tutoring kids from underprivileged backgrounds, and was intrigued by the opportunity to get more involved with a charity from a strategic point of view.  He works an hour a week as a Trustee for Good Story, which helps fund and advise creative social enterprises.  In his regular job, Charles is part of a large international institution so he enjoys the contrast of working within a small charity.  “It’s rewarding to see how you can make a difference as an individual,” he said.  “I’m learning new skills, getting a view of organisational strategy as well as a great deal of satisfaction.”

Cause4’s Trustee Leadership Programme will run throughout 2016. Anyone interested in finding out more about becoming a Charity Trustee should contact for more information.

The original article can be found here

“Cause4 has had a transformational effect on the Festival, at the level of innovation in organisational development, as well as in fundraising.”

Chris Martin, Trustee of Salisbury International Festival