We all have an honest friend we can go to when we need the truth – we know they have our best interests at heart and if they must say something that’s difficult to hear it’s only because they want us to do well.

And that’s exactly what a charity trustee does.

With Trustees’ Week coming up,  Lincolnshire Community and Voluntary Service (LCVS)  wants people to consider the difference they could make as a trustee.

The week is all about highlighting opportunities for people from all walks of life to get involved and make a difference.

In the same way that behind every school there is a board of voluntary governors holding headteachers to account and acting as a ‘critical friend,’ behind every charity there is a board of trustees doing exactly the same.

Working in East Lindsey, South Holland, South Kesteven and Boston, LCVS is both a charity itself, with a board of trustees of its own, and works to support community groups and charitable organisations.

David FanninDavid Fannin, chief executive of LCVS, said: “Trustees bring a wealth of experience and knowledge. Having that pool of expertise helps all charities to make better decisions and stay on track to deliver what they are set up to deliver.”

It can be notoriously difficult to fill trustee positions but it is vital to enable charities to continue with the work they do.

Just a few of the organisations LCVS has worked with to seek trustees include Len Pick Trust, in Bourne; Boston’s Butterfly Hospice; Citizen’s Advice East Lindsey and Grantham Food Bank.

Trustees are the people in charge of a charity. They play a vital role, volunteering their time and working together to make important decisions about the charity’s work.

They have and must accept ultimate responsibility for directing the affairs of a charity, and ensuring that it is solvent, well-run, and delivering the charitable outcomes for the benefit of the public for which it has been set up.

But their role is not just a legal requirement. Trustees enrich charities and the work they do can be enriching for their lives too.

graham-scorthornGraham Scorthorne, of Gedney, is chairman of the trustees for LCVS.

He worked primarily in education for 27 years in the South Holland area, including many years in deputy and headteacher roles, then spent six years with South Holland District Council as Local Strategic Partnership Manager – developing partnerships and getting people to work together.

Through that role he became acquainted with LCVS and when he retired was asked to become a trustee, which he did in 2011.

He said: “I have found a lot of the contacts I have made over the years are still extremely important to an organisation like LCVS.

“Very often it’s the old case of not what you know but who you know – I may not know all the answers but I quite likely know someone who can come up with the answer.

“When you retire it is very easy to focus on playing a round of golf or working in the garden and it’s good to have something that’s mentally very stimulating – having to work out, as in any professional environment, what is the best thing to do to move the organisation forward.

“It most certainly keeps the brain active and it’s putting something back into society. I could have chosen perhaps to work in a library or drive a mini bus – all sorts of occupations like that that are very important, but this is a way to volunteer and use the skills I have acquired over many years in a really positive way.

“The happier board meetings are the better but we must not ignore the fact you are there to ensure the organisation is on track in all respects.”

Graham’s role involves contact with the chief executive most weeks and attending regular meetings.

He said key aspects of being a trustee include:

  • Finding the core values of an organisation and keeping it on track to deliver those
  • Being part of the community and keeping eyes and ears open for ways to help the organisation or how the organisation can help others – so much of it is about making connections
  • Becoming involved in all aspects of the organisation, including staffing, finance – particularly being innovative about how to bring in funding
  • Being a ‘critical friend’

There are approximately 165,000 charities in England and Wales and 850,000 trustees.

The average trustee in England and Wales is 59 years old but there are many young trustees too with some 86,000 trustee positions in the UK held by 16-34 year olds.

It really doesn’t matter who you are or what your background if you have an interest in the aims of an organisation you can make a valuable contribution.

suzi-wheatley-lcvs-trusteeFellow LCVS trustee Suzi Wheatley, who lives in Stamford and is Executive Assistant with the Evergreen Care Trust, Stamford, ran her own business providing secretarial services for 20 years and taught IT at Stamford College.

She joined LCVS as a trustee in 2014.

She said: “Through the Evergreen Care Trust, LCVS is something we have come to be involved with.

“I attend meetings where we discuss what the chief staff have been doing and they report back on how things are going.

“It’s my first trustee role and it is a gradual learning curve but I am pleased to be involved. For me, I don’t have the financial knowledge some others do but I have some experience with HR and people which I can use.

“You need an understanding of how charities operate and what constraints they work within.

“You’re there to help steer things in the right direction and keep the charity operating well for the benefit of the community.

“The only reason to be a trustee is if you feel you can benefit the organisation – if you’re interested and passionate, go for it.”

If you’re interested in becoming a trustee contact LCVS for information on the organisations you could work with in your area, contact your local LCVS office. Also find Lincolnshire CVS on Facebook and Twitter.



Expert advice on offer in Lincolnshire in Trustees’ Week


  • See also: Trustee roles and responsibilities
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