Tuesday 28 August 2012

Too old? Too young?

It's a commonplace to observe our trustee boards are often highly unrepresentative. Too many men. Too White. And often too old. The age issue is tt interesting one. Having trustees who have been around in top roles in the various sectors brings wisdom and experience. And let's be clear we don't fall into the trap of thinking there is an age limit for trustees. No reason at all not to have people in the 70 s. Or older even.

But there are very few boards that have young trustees And it's time we considered why ?

Recently I came across a brilliant organisation , "Young Charity Trustees" and it's dynamic founder Alex Swallow. In his own words,

" I set up Young Charity Trustees after attending my first Trustee conference, looking around the room and realising that there were very few people my age present. After a bit more of an investigation into the stats, which show that the average age of Trustees in England and Wales is 57, I started a networking group on LinkedIn, which grew into a website and engagement through other forms of social media (we have over 3000 followers on Twitter, for example). "

Young Charity Trustees is run by Alex with the help of volunteers . Their main aim is to increase the number of young people on Charity Boards and to support those who already serve on them.

But not content with that challenging aim they want to support other forms of Board diversity, and to promote other leadership opportunities for young people such as School Governor and Local Councillor positions.

Alex is one of those people who you just know will be highly successful . As he said ,

" In my own case, I was convinced that the Chief Executive of the organisation I'm a Trustee at was going to ask me to be Father Christmas at the Children's Party, so I was floored when she mentioned the possibility of Trusteeship instead."

It's a new organisation but they have already started working with a number of local and national charities who are keen on involving young people on Governance level.

Alex says that one of the biggest things they have found is that most young people have no idea that they are able to be Trustees, which means that a host of skills and passion is not being utilised in the sector.

Young people have a lot to offer Boards and a lot to gain in return, especially at a time when the job market is tough and the skills learned through Trusteeship can add another string to their bow.

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