If you are between the age of 18 – 35 and work within or have a keen interest in the future of the arts and culture sector, it might be an idea to consider joining a charitable board of trustees. Jane from Culture+ talks more about why you should and the value of it for everyone involved.
You may say,
but I don’t even know what a charity board is?
A charity board member or trustee or a board director, are people who collectively volunteer (most of the time) to be responsible of and govern a charity or an organisation.
Aren’t those people usually retired, over 50s?
Yes they are, especially in Dorset. In Dorset the average age of charity board members is 72 years old. It doesn’t, however need to remain this way. It is unhealthy especially for the supposedly vibrant sector as arts and culture sector to stay stagnant. We talked more on the importance of having a diverse Board for your charity or organisation here.
I recognised that Dorset has an increasingly aging population, and the percentage of people between the age of 18 – 35 is pretty low. I believe however this makes it all the more important to be represented in the parts of the community that matter, to avoid your voice being sidelined.
To Make Change Happen
Charities and arts organisations in the county provide a great deal of support and activities for people in the county.
If you ever feel and think, why is there not enough things for me to do? Why is there nothing for me or for people like me? Why is there no one doing the things I think is important?
Well, if you sit on a board of a charity that you believe in or an arts organisation that suits your interest, then you are really able to make these changes. Because being a board member of an arts and culture organisation means that you are responsible to ensure that the organisation is benefiting the public by carrying out its purpose. Purpose here is related to the reason why they exist, what makes them different to other organisations and charities. It is also the reason why they are granted by the government to be a charity and receive a variety of support. This purpose has to be good for the society that they are in.
To provide them with your insight and expertise
Like anything, if there is a change that you want to see happen, you need to work for it. Some people might have the misconception that all trustees do is shuffle around paper on the table. This might be the case with some charities, but a good board is a working board. A good board supports the officers of the organisation to deliver the work to serve the charity’s purpose.
Now, you say, but I have no expertise; I am at the beginning of my career; I don’t feel I have enough insight.; The rest of the board seems to have intimidating careers and experience that spans over the last 20 years.
Don’t worry, I have observed a few charity boards and trust me, not everybody understands everything and have experience on all the aspects of the charity purposes. That is why a lot of charity board look for people with specific knowledge and skills, a board member with knowledge of finances, a board member with an understanding of laws and so forth.
Yes, but what can I bring to the table?
- First of all, passion and dedication. As long as you choose to be a member of a charity that you believe in the purpose of, think that they can make the change, and want to be a part of it.
- Secondly, a different point of view or new questions. Quite often boards have been going the way they have been for the last 15 to 20 years with the same kind of people in them. Which also mean that the last time someone questioned: “What is within the budget line “miscellany”?” was also 15 years ago. Perhaps by asking new questions you are saving the organisations money, or help to improve processes.
- The third, most likely is insight and expertise on what is current, most current in the online media, popular culture, technological advances, new movements and campaigns that happen around the world, and more. This last one is crucial to any organisations, in business planning it is related to future projecting, forecasting, competitor and situation analysis.
Other benefits on joining the board
- You will learn. If you join a good board would also be supportive one to another. You will be supported in learning about finances, law and organisational strategic development. You will also gain an understanding of how organisations survives and the complexity of decision making.
- You will gain experience especially on being a leader. Combined with the things you learn, being a board member will enhance your potential in the job market.
- Expand your network. You will get to work with others on the board that have 15 years experience, and 15 years worth of networks.
So why don’t you give it a go? If you are still unsure, we are happy to have a chat with you, which might reveal more skills that you can bring to a table of a charity or even suggest an organisation that might suit your passion.
More information on
- What you need to know and do as a trustee are available in the Charity Commission website
- What a charity should be like on Charity Governance Website