Diversifying the Board is a priority for most charitable organisations. Many organisations have strategies in place to diversify their Boards and yet when we tried to find and talk to a younger (under 35) Trustee in Dorset we found them rare.
Rosie from Culture+ talked to Sarah Setter, a young woman in Somerset who is on the Board of Petherton Arts Trust, home to The David Hall. For the most part this organisation is run by volunteers with one part-time professional paid coordinator.
Why did you want to join the Board?
I had moved to Somerset from London with 10 years’ experience as a producer of touring for dance companies. I wanted to stay in touch with the arts, make new contacts and contribute some of my knowledge and expertise to learn more about programming within a venue that was new to me.
What’s your contribution to the Board?
Helping to develop audiences and the programme for dance and theatre, advising on marketing activities and exploring funding and sponsorship opportunities for the organisation.
What’s the main challenge for a young person joining a Board?
Boards are often made up of older people, with a tendency to pay lip service to change, that may involve risk. Often people on Boards like to do things the way they’ve always been done.
What’s your advice to a young person wanting to join a Board?
Find someone on the board to find out more about the organisation and how you might contribute, then go for it! Do protect yourself in understanding there may be resistance, ensure you have a good argument, get stuck in and be confident in your different perspective that adds value to an old organisation for example new technologies, or what’s in trend to appeal to new audiences.
What’s your advice to Boards?
Never underestimate the power of technology that a young person can understand it better than an older one. Embrace this knowledge and skills.
Avoid blocking new ideas; listen and engage with fresh ideas. It will ultimately help the organisation thrive.
How can Boards attract younger Trustees?
Offer them a tour of their venue or organisation. Find something that is interesting for them to engage with and contribute. Seek them out through social media. Use the way young people communicate to reach them.
What would be a good way to be supported as a new Trustee?
Suggest a mentor to help and guide them, from outside the organisation.
Set up an induction process that helps them understand aspects of the Board that they are less familiar with and people to help training in those areas.
We hope this discussion with Sarah encourage you to think about being a board member.
To read more about Boards and how young people can get involved read more here Why should I join a Board?
If you are a young (18-35) board member in Dorset, we would love to hear from you, maybe you can share your story and inspire others.
Image: The David Hall presents a blues artist from United States of America.