Celebrating trustees week 1st -5th November 2021
1st until 5th November is the Trustees Week and we all celebrated here at Shpresa. It is that time of year when we unite with other charities to celebrate the vital work of charity trustees, it is an annual week to showcase the great work the trustees do, and this week provides opportunities for everyone to get involved and make a difference.
Almost all trustees volunteer their time for free, doing their important work often on top of already busy lives. They are the life blood of charity in our country, in UK, and they are, for the most part, unsung heroes.
Trustees Week is about taking a moment to shine a light on them, about saying thank you to the 700,000 people in England and Wales who serve their communities and the causes they care for and for us thanking.
Ms Max Griffin, Mr Leonard Dedgjonaj , Ms Hatixhe Demushi , Ms Nertila Beti, Mr Ergest Zejnelaj
And it’s about encouraging more people to consider what they might be able to offer as a charity trustee, and what they might gain from the experience.
Thank you to our trustees for playing a vital role, volunteering their time and working together to make important decisions about our charity’s work.
The theme for this year was “encouraging different perspectives”
From outset here at Shpresa we wanted our charity and its board to be
- user led
- Take up challenges
We wanted our trustees to think always about the ideas, perspectives, skills and experiences they need on the board in order to thrive and inspire trust.
And as an organisation especially trustees reflected the make-up of the members who were using Shpresa such as gender, issues, faith, disability. education level
Over the years trusteeship here at Shpresa have been a place where our members sit and make decision about services, vision of Shpresa and managing. Women, young people, man and those from different educational background have had access to that opportunity. This has been a great strength – in terms of background and experience, but also in outlook and personality – has helped us to make better decisions we believe
We strongly believe Diverse boards are better able to anticipate and manage risks, seize new opportunities, future proof our organisation and tackle difficult but necessary decisions.
We are very often asked
What does it take to have that role?
The role of a charity trustee has many benefits but it’s worth understanding how these can vary depending on the size and nature of the organisation. You might wonder:
How much time will I need to commit?
What expertise do I have that can benefit the charity?
What skills will I gain as a trustee?
What are the risks associated with being a trustee?
But it’s hard to say because being a charity trustee, your responsibilities are likely to vary for a community group compared with a large charity or a social enterprise. That why we tell everyone:” it is important to do your research and really understand the scope of the role firstly, so you don’t over commit and secondly, so you achieve what you would like in the process”.
There are, however, a number of benefits as well as some of the risks that might help sway your decision.
Benefits of being a charity trustee
You may not get paid for your service as a trustee but what other benefits can be garnered from volunteering as a trustee?
- Gain experience in strategic planning
- The board of trustees will often form the strategy for the charity. In an ever-evolving sector, not-for-profits are frequently looking for new opportunities and equally face many challenges from emerging risks. You will gain experience managing these risks and creating long-term plans for the charity’s continuing viability.
- Develop skills in new areas
- It’s likely that each trustee at your chosen charity will have their own unique skills to bring to the table. Working closely with the board means working as a team and learning from each other.
- Add significant value to the table
- Diversity at board level is a very important element of a good Board as well as some of the areas required by charities today such as experience with online fundraising methods or cyber risks. Equally, you might find a charity who needs an accountant, or marketing skills and if you have them, you should be a shoo-in for the role.
- Youth is on your side
- If you’re just starting out, being a charity trustee is a great way to gain experience for your CV. Traditionally the average age of a charity trustee is 59 years old which may be a little daunting if you are younger. However, 51% of charities believe having diversity on a board can benefit charities and so will seek to employ a range of talent from different backgrounds.
- Build a network of contacts
- Working in the not-for-profit sector will expose you to new faces and potentially new opportunities, you just need to keep your ear to the ground and make sure you network.
Risks of being a charity trustee
It’s also important to understand the challenges you might face. So what could happen?
- Being a trustee means you’re responsible for making sure the charity is run properly and uses its charitable funds and assets wisely. Also for making sure that it doesn’t do anything to put its property, funds, assets or reputation at risk, and takes care when investing or borrowing money.
- And of course, ultimately, for making sure it delivers on its charitable objectives.
- In simple terms the risks associated with being a trustee really begin to arise when as a board member, you don’t meet some or all of those duties and responsibilities.
- It could be anything from a breach of authority on the Board’s Trustee’s part; or an omission by the Board Trustee; even neglect; or maybe a misleading – perhaps libellous or slanderous – statement issued by the Board of Trustees. If someone feels they have suffered a loss– whether financial or otherwise, the liability can lie with the board.
- In this case, it’s worth speaking to the charity before you join as trustee to see if they have trustees’ liability insurance. Having this cover in place helps to give you confidence when making decisions on the charity’s behalf. Please note- this won’t cover you for every scenario but if you have acted lawfully and made and honest mistake, then you should be protected.
So we are asking you to get involved in Trustees’ Week, whoever you are, if you missed it do it later
If you know someone who gives of their spare time to serve as a trustee, use this opportunity to say thank you.
If you know someone who would make a great trustee, tag them using the hashtag #TagATrustee and encourage them to find out more about becoming a trustee.
Take the trustee quiz https://trusteesweek.org/trustee-personality-quiz/ to find out what skills you bring to your board, and encourage your colleagues on your board to do the same, and to discuss the outcomes at your next board meeting. Or use the opportunity to refresh your knowledge on all the trustee essentials in our easy-read 5-minute guides https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/5-minute-guides-for-charity-trustees
Together this week and every day after , we can help promote the visibility of trusteeship, encourage new people into the role, and celebrate those who are already involved.
Our chair Griffin, Max shares with us her journey
In 2018, I attended an East London Business Alliance event with the hope to work with a charity that focused on immigrants and was pleased to meet Luljeta Nuzi and become introduced to Shpresa Programme (“Shpresa”). After researching Shpresa’s values, programmes and partners, I met with two trustees and a young person advisor. After speaking with them and hearing their stories and first-hand evidence of the great work Shpresa was doing for the community, I applied to become a board member and joined the advisory board. Shortly afterwards, I was grateful to be welcome as a trustee.
Over the last few of years, I have enjoyed being on the board of Shpresa and am proud of how the organisation has been developing, especially how we quick we responded to COVID. Within a very short period of time 2 weeks, we were offering tings online, had set up a fundraising page to get offer emergency help and data, Shpresa staff and volunteers were equipped to work from home and ensure the Albanian speaking community still had support during the crisis. Shpresa further stepped up by providing, among many other things, food/delivery support, storytelling, befriending over the phone and all services online. There was also a massive appeal for mobile phones and data to ensure users could remain active and connected to the community, despite the lockdown restrictions.
A focus that was brought to the board’s attention during the crisis was digitalisation and vision of Shpresa in the light of these crisis Now more than ever, we need to ensure our users are able to utilise technology and that we, as an organisation, are using technology in the best and most efficient ways to meet our user demands. Digitalisation fed in well into Shpresa’s strategic review. 2020 was a good year to take stock of how far Shpresa has come over the last five years and where Shpresa needs to be in the next five years. Through interviews with users and reviews of statistics, it was established that Shpresa should continue with the services it offers and further increase its digital presence.
On this special time, we would like to shout out for out trustees
Leonard Dedgjonaj – Vice Chair
Hatixhe Demushi – Treasurer
Nertila Beti – Trustee
Ergest Zejnelaj – Trustee