The role of a Trustee varies considerably depending upon the size and activity of the organisation that they are a part of, however the responsibilities remain the same:
- To ensure that the organisation is operating for the benefit for which it was set up and to guide it’s direction.
- To comply with the governing documents of the organisation and the law
- To act and make decisions that are in the best interests of the organisation
- To manage the resources of the organisation responsibly
- To act with all reasonable care and skill to the best of your ability
- To ensure that the organisation is accountable by adhering to statutory accounting and reporting requirements
These may sound very onerous, and off-putting, however they are important guidelines that keep the good work of the organisation going. Trustees are not expected to know everything all the time, and are entitled to training and advice for their roles. Trustees are part of a group of many voices in their committees, supporting each other and working together towards the common purpose of the organisation – which just so happens to be the theme of this year’s Trustees Week – Many Voices. Working Together. With Purpose.
Don’t just take our word for it though, these real-life Trustees have kindly given a profile of their roles:
Sue Jackson – Maer Village Hall – Secretary
Sue has been secretary for about 6 years of Maer village hall, which is the only community meeting space in the small village located in Newcastle under Lyme borough.
The role of Secretary can help to drive some of the actions and supports the chair and other trustees. Some tasks are administrational, but much is about good communication – prompting and reminding other members of the team. Sue helps to organise events and takes the lead on updating policies and procedures in the aim of improving overall management of the hall by the trustees.
Sue really enjoys the role as she has always been good at organising and managing people. With a good committee of about 12 people made up of people involved in the user groups of the hall, she feels they are lucky to have such a wide, varied involvement. The benefit of this means that the village hall can provide a wide range of activities such as community café once a month, knit and natter and many other activities. The outcome is preventing social isolation which is particularly beneficial for residents in a rural community.
A couple of years ago the Maer Village Hall trustees were recognised in receiving trustee awards and this appreciation helps to feel that their effort and commitment is worthwhile.
Jan Wilson – Support Staffordshire – Board Member
As a Trustee and Chair of Support Staffordshire our work is to set the strategic direction of the organisation, ensure good governance and financial probity.
Personally my role includes authorising expenditure over certain amounts, keeping up to date with key initiatives being undertaken by the organisation, acting as a sounding board for the CEO, keeping Trustees informed between Board meetings and familiarising myself with developments in the wider VCSE sector.
Trustees act as critical friends to the senior leadership team bringing their skills and interests to the organisation for the benefit of all staff. They are there to scrutinise the work of the organisation and to advise and guide. They provide the checks and balances which are crucial to the smooth running of the charity. Working in partnership with staff is key as they are the most important asset of the organisation and their welfare is a prime concern.
Being a Trustee has been rewarding and challenging. It is a way of giving back to the community and using skills acquired over my working life for the benefit of the organisation. I have been involved with Support Staffordshire from the very beginning and the rewards of watching the organisation grow and develop have been enormous. I would urge anyone thinking about volunteering as a Trustee to do so – you’ll never be bored!
Daniel Hazlehurst – Bramshall & Loxley Village Hall – Chair of Trustees
Bramshall & Loxley Village Hall is located 2 miles outside of Uttoxeter. The hall provides a regular meeting place for local groups, many of whom are retired and need the social interaction this provides.
Last winter, the hall faced an unprecedented financial challenge when the heating became totally un-sustainable from a financial point of view. This was a challenge for myself and the other trustees. Luckily the hall has an additional financial reserve, some of which will be used to provide funding for a new heating system which will allow the hall to remain viable for use by the groups over the winter period.
I find being a trustee extremely rewarding and once the new heating project is completed and I see the hall finances in better shape, this will be nice to look back on and think that I have played a part in the history of the village hall.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoy my time being a trustee, to ultimately carry out the wishes of the person who donated the original village hall to the village, and to ensure that it remains available for use by the original groups named in the charity deed such as the Church, Bramshall playgroup and also more recently formed groups in the area such as Bramshall Events who organise village events such as kids discos, scarecrow competitions, an event for the coronation, etc. If you’re inspired to give it a go yourself you can search for Trustee roles in your local area here OpportunitySearch – VMS (vcconnectsystem.org.uk)