Charities must do more to promote trusteeship to attract young people, says survey

Research from the specialist insurer Ecclesiastical shows that many young people would consider a trustee role, but that a large number know little about what it entails

Charities are being urged to promote trusteeship better among young people after research published today revealed many would consider becoming board members if they knew more about it.

According to the survey, 30 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds donate to charities and the same percentage volunteer, but just 9 per cent serve as trustees.

Only 10 per cent said they knew what a trustee was but, when the role was explained, 24 per cent said they would consider becoming one.

The online survey of 500 people, which was commissioned by the specialist insurer Ecclesiastical Insurance, suggests that the lack of young people on charity boards might be due more to ignorance than to apathy.

"This research demonstrates that the barrier to more young people becoming trustees isn't a lack of willingness," said Penny Wilson, chief executive of trustee recruitment charity Getting on Board. "It is a lack of information and awareness, with a large percentage of respondents not knowing about the role or not knowing how to become a trustee.

"We must do more to involve young people in charity governance to draw on their skills and experiences, to reflect the next generation in our strategic planning and to ensure a fresh supply of new people into the trustee body."

Forty-eight per cent of respondents said charities needed to provide more guidance on how to become trustees and 45 per cent said charities needed to promote the benefits of being trustees more widely.

Getting on Board and the Young Trustees Movement, an initiative to increase the amount of trustees aged up to 30, were both consulted before the research was carried out to help understand the issues.

"A board’s strength lies in its collective skills and perspectives," said Leon Ward, a Young Trustees Movement campaigner who became a trustee at 18 and is now deputy chair of the sexual health charity Brook.

"To understand the charity’s beneficiaries properly and serve them effectively, it needs a diverse range of people from a variety of backgrounds and experience."

Angus Roy, charity director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: "Our research tells us that charities need to do more to promote the benefits of being trustees."

Ecclesiastical and Getting on Board are working on a new free guide, How to Become a Charity Trustee, which will help young people understand the role of trustees.

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