By Ben Robinson, Regional Manager CSJF, Yorkshire and the Humber
Throughout this week the CSJ Foundation is shining a light on the vital role that Trustees play for our Alliance charities, including Helping Hands Community Trust, Clean Slate Solutions and Cumbria Youth Alliance and Heads Up Leicester.
The theme of Trustees’ Week is, ‘Many Voices. Working Together. With Purpose.’ Which chimes with the CSJ’s own aims for the Alliance, a 650+ strong network of amazing, small, frontline charities and social enterprises. Which are; to amplify the voices of frontline organisations, who know social justice challenges and solutions better than anyone in the country, and to join up the many voices of the Alliance to create a clear message of what needs to change and how it can be done.
On our travels across the country, Trustees so often come up as crucial to a small charity’s sustainability. They provide an invaluable sound board for any charity leader.
One charity leader I spoke with recently described their chair of Trustees, lovingly, as someone who pushes the charity to deliver as best it possibly can for the people they support, while also sharing their key skills to allow the charity to do this.
As Colin Davies, Chief Executive Hope Community Foundation, an Alliance charity in Sheffield shared with us;
‘Trustees in my experience can bring so much value to a small charity. They don’t just bring regulatory checks and balances. They provide invaluable and much-needed input and support for the charity, enabling it to successfully navigate what can often be a challenging journey.’
Furthermore, Emily Smith, a Trustee for Yorkshire and the Humber Alliance charity, Huddersfield Welcome Centre says of her experience;
‘My motivation for being a Trustee is my strong belief that if you are able, you should use the experience, knowledge, and skills that you have to give back and help those who really need it.
I am very proud to be a Trustee of a charity which has grown and developed over the last few years to help an ever-increasing number of people, particularly families, which resonates with me as a mum of three young children. It is very rewarding to be part of a team of volunteers who are all working towards the same vision and to know that I have played a part in shaping the strategic and financial direction of the charity.’
We also heard from Lindsay Woodward, CEO of Heads Up in Leicester a charity that supports local children, young people and their parents/carers with mental health, relationships, communication and behaviour.
“As a charity CEO, having an active Board of Trustees is essential. Not only because their governance of the charity will be so much better if they truly understand the operational offer and its challenges, but because they can then bring their wealth of experience, contacts, knowledge, and time to create and help us to deliver a vision for the charity’s future. With the tone very much set by our Chair Moira, our Board is lively, engaged, supportive and has propelled change forward this year…by being part of the change process alongside our staff team. I’d encourage anyone looking for a way to use their work and life skills in a volunteering capacity, to consider becoming a charity Trustee. And I’m thankful to the wonderful team of Trustees who support myself and my team at Heads Up Leicester.”
In summary, it is clear that Trustees can have a hugely positive impact on a small charity. Organisations regularly share with us their challenges in recruiting and retaining suitable Trustees, and the difference it makes when they have someone with the appropriate skill set and vision in place.
Here is to all the amazing Trustees of small charities up and down the country, doing brilliant work and changing the lives of the most disadvantaged- we at the CSJ Foundation salute you and look forward to working with you further in the future!