“It’s not easy, but it is both a privilege and a pleasure.”
This National Trustees Week Compton Care Chairman Ros Keeton talks about the challenges, the rewards and the changing nature of being a charity Trustee.
Trustees are ultimately responsible for everything a charity does. They can be held legally accountable for the decisions they make. It is vitally important for any charity to have trustees committed to their task and with the skills, knowledge and experience that the charity needs. In 2017 there were 700,000 trustees in England and Wales donating on average approximately 5 hours per week. That is a heartening statistic for what is a challenging voluntary role in a demanding environment.
The charitable sector and trusteeship has faced growing public and media scrutiny over the past few years. Much of this is a result of several high profile cases which highlighted incidences of failings in charity governance and trustee performance. National media has therefore focused more attention on trustee competence. Local charities like Compton Care remain held in high regard, however it is vital that no charity ignores the national picture. We all must assure the communities we serve and our supporters and donors that our governance arrangements are rigorous, and our trustees are up to the job.
The increasing public and governmental scrutiny has led to a wave of new legislation and guidance for charities. One key development has been a new Code of Governance for charity trustees however the introduction does highlight the growing demands on trustees.
Against this background charities are experiencing other major changes. Demand is rising as a result of both more people needing assistance and more people with more complex problems needing help. At the same time funding from local government is falling. Local councils are moving away from grant funding as their budgets are squeezed and similarly NHS commissioning is similarly cash strapped.
We at Compton Care are fully committed to ensuring our trustees are of the highest quality. We have identified the skills we need on the board and have recruited against these requirements. Our trustees receive both induction and ongoing training, as well as annual reviews. They can access professional advice as and when needed. As a result of these measures I am confident that our trustees are well equipped to undertake their duties and that they understand their role and responsibilities.
There are, however, barriers to trusteeship. The responsibilities are heavy and can be off putting, especially to people with less experience. The time required to undertake the role has grown and many would argue that it is now incompatible with full time employment or education. Having said that trusteeship offers great development opportunities and the ability to grow one’s skills and competences.
In conclusion the role and requirements being placed on charity trustees have significantly changed and increased over the last five years. Charity trusteeship is not for the faint hearted however it does bring immense rewards. The latest Charity Commission research into trusteeship showed that overall trustees regard their role in a very positive manner. 90% of respondents found the role to be either very rewarding or rewarding to them personally, with 94% of trustees responding that their role as a trustee as either important or very important to them. As a Chairman and trustee at Compton Care I would certainly endorse that view. The role of trustees has and will continue to change, it is not easy but for me being a trustee is both a privilege and a pleasure.