Did you know that less than 3% of charity trustees are under 30? We’re partnering with the Young Trustees Movement to change that by promoting young trusteeships and talking to members of the LSE community who already are a young trustee! Here’s Holly (MSc International Affairs, 2021) who has been a trustee at Together We Learn since 2018!
I am an LSE postgraduate international relations and history student, a woman and aged between 18-30. I am also a trustee of a registered charity. You might not consider this remarkable, but it is. According to research by Getting on Board, I am three decades younger than the average-aged trustee in the UK, and the wrong gender. Two-thirds of trustees are over 50 years old and, despite women being over-represented in the not-for-profit workforce, women are half as likely to sit on charity boards as men.
Maybe that surprised you? It surprised me too, but that’s partly because the charity I govern has a diverse board of women and men at different ages and stages of their lives, from different countries and career paths, each contributing a different perspective. Research tells us this is important in governance because diverse teams challenge each other’s views and therefore spend more time analysing and re-analysing information. This process allows them to remain objective and leads to better decisions. When the boards of charities are unrepresentative, decision-making suffers.
Students can be trustees too. Before I started my master’s course, I was working as a policy adviser and began volunteering as a trustee alongside my daytime job. I was nervous about how my decision to return to academia might affect my role as a trustee. In my interview, I had stressed how the skills and networks that I used in my job could support the charity achieve its objectives, and changing path felt like I was letting the charity down.
Happily, that wasn’t the case. The charity I govern is UK-based and works with local communities to improve educational outcomes for children in Ethiopia. Studying international relations has helped me place the charity in a global context and provide advice and guidance on strategy that goes beyond day-to-day governance issues. I believe this has made the board’s decision-making more robust. Being at university has also opened up new opportunities to raise awareness for the charity on campus, while sharing opportunities with the LSE community. We plan to advertise volunteer placements in Ethiopia to LSE students through CareerHub.
If you are considering volunteer work experience, I would recommend applying to become a trustee. It gives you experience in a leadership role, improves your problem solving and strategic thinking, helps expand your network beyond campus, and gives you meaningful insight into the charity sector. As organisations across all sectors of UK society are paying more attention to diversity, this is the perfect time for young people, especially women and those from minority backgrounds.
If we’ve inspired you to become a Young Trustee, take a look at the opportunities available on the Young Trustees Movement vacancy board. Looking for other volunteering opportunities? Check out one of our other 200+ ongoing opportunities or book a one-to-one with David Coles, the Volunteer Centre Manager if you have more questions. If you are short on time, then take a look at the one-off opportunities that will return for Michaelmas Term 2021, organised by the LSE Volunteer Centre. And why not follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up-to-date with our events and opportunities and read our blog for more volunteering tips and stories.