Why become a trustee or non-executive director?

Whether you are driven by social action and the desire to influence change in society or are volunteering your free time to a cause or organisation that you are passionate about, helping steer an organisation towards achieving its goals is very rewarding thing to do. 

You may have some doubts about what value you might bring to a Board at this early stage of your life or career, but we want to show you that your experiences and skills are valuable to a wide range of organisations and how to go about selling yourself. You can’t be shy about putting yourself forward – Boards need engaged and committed members to keep the organisation on track and achieving its goals. 

What you will gain Becoming a member of a board is an exciting and new stage in your professional or personal development. You will get to see how an organisation is governed and see how different people apply their experience and knowledge to ensuring the organisation is running correctly. You will also create new networks and meet a variety of different people – from fundraising to HR or finance, every Board needs a wide variety of skills and professional experience represented for it to be effective. And being on a Board will help you develop your confidence and leadership abilities and show you what you can achieve. 

What a Board will gain by having you on it You will bring your unique perspective of being a younger person into what is a predominantly older group of professionals. Your lived experience, insights and new ways of thinking are invaluable to help create a diversity of thought that is essential for a Board to truly thrive. As a new pair of eyes, there will be questions they haven’t thought of that will help shed light on how they can improve what they do and how they operate. 

Building your experience 

Only 10% of trustee roles are advertised externally – so if you are proactive and are interested in volunteering your time and energy to an organisation that calls to you, reach out and see how you can get involved. Maybe be a bit bold and tell them why they need your voice represented in their organisation? They might not have thought about it!

Volunteering with local youth or community organisations is a really good way to gain exposure to how organisations engage at a grassroots level. You could consider becoming a governor of your local school or joining a Youth Committee or Advisory Panel of your local authority or NHS Trust –think about what interests and excites you and start researching. You will be surprised at how many opportunities there are to start gaining board level exposure before applying for a full Board role.  

There are many networks and organisations dedicated to helping younger people gain board experience in particular the Young Trustees Movement, Getting on Board and Beyond Suffrage. 

LinkedIn – if you have a profile, add that you are interested in joining a not-for-profit board so that recruiters and organisations looking directly for candidates can find you more easily. If you don’t have a profile yet, think about creating one, it’s free and a really good way to showcase who you are and what skills and abilities you offer. It’s not just for people with MBA’s or degrees – it’s a brilliant way to start creating connections and increasing your own network and profile.