Top Tips for Trustees

by Mike Pattinson, Chair of Community Works

I’ve been a Trustee of Community Works for the last five years and its Chair since February. Up until the point that I stood for election there were a million reasons why I couldn’t see myself on a board: I was far too busy, I couldn’t possibly commit, I was working really hard and deserved some downtime. What would I have to contribute?

It’s one of those things of course that once you start doing it you can’t remember why you didn’t years ago.

According to my phone I seem to waste an average of 40 minutes a day either being hilarious or in a state of pretend rage on various social media platforms.

Finding a day or two a month to do something worthwhile doesn’t seem such a big ask in that context does it? So here’s my top tips for what they’re worth.

Think about what it is that you care about

There’ll be a charity or group locally trying to do something about it.

Then think about what you can offer

Community Works wants the voluntary sector to have the biggest positive impact locally. In order to do so it needs to be: well governed and led, be financially sustainable and credible – as do all other charities and groups working with vulnerable people. Strong ideals and a desire to help are meaningless if you’ve gone bust. Boards in this context are crucial in terms of leadership, strategy, support for the staff and clarity about the vision and values of the organisation.

Remember you’re a trustee not the manager

Your role is to provide direction, ensure the charity is acting in accordance with its vision and is meeting the best needs of those it serves. You are not the manager – you should support, challenge, steer and guide.

Be prepared to give and to learn

You’re there to help. Use your experience and expertise to support the organisation – it’s about ‘giving’ for the benefit of others. Be prepared to listen, learn and think – what works in my job where we employ 4,000 people is unlikely to be applicable in an organization with 10.

And then…

Enjoy the experiences and achievements

In my five years I’ve been constantly amazed by the passion and tenacity of those who work for the organisation, their ability to influence the Councils we work with whilst promoting the needs of our members and the rights of those the sector is here to support and serve.

I’ve also been privileged to meet and work alongside some amazing people on the Board – whether they’re representing member organisations, are academics, lawyers or business people. I’ve even met some funny accountants and that’s not something I expected to say.

We’re social beings and most people most of the time want to help, give and make a difference.

So there’s always time – and there’s plenty of opportunity if you want to take it.


 

Community Works Governance Advice Surgeries:

Are you a new or experienced trustee, a management committee member or a senior manager? Would you like the opportunity to sit down with a range of experts on different topics relevant to your role? On 21 November, as part of Trustees’ Week, we are bringing together all of the expertise, information and advice you could need to answer those questions you might be afraid to ask or don’t know who to ask.

For more details and to book, go to https://www.bhcommunityworks.org.uk/governance-advice-sessions/

 

“It’s one of those things of course that once you start doing it you can’t remember why you didn’t years ago. So there’s always time – and there’s plenty of opportunity if you want to take it.”

“It’s one of those things of course that once you start doing it you can’t remember why you didn’t years ago. So there’s always time – and there’s plenty of opportunity if you want to take it.”

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