As Volunteers Week draws to a close, we can all look back and celebrate volunteers across the UK, who, like us all, have had a year unlike any other. Volunteer efforts didn’t stop during the pandemic, in fact more people got involved in their local communities. From looking out for neighbours who were vulnerable, to helping distribute meals and stock food banks, to helping the NHS deliver vaccines across the country, it’s great to be able to say thank you to them all.
At SCVO we’ve been able to see some of the fantastic achievements of volunteers by reading through the applications to the Scottish Charity Awards Volunteer of the Year. It’s certainly going to be really difficult to pick just one winner, and all will be revealed on 1 October.
When we think about volunteering, we perhaps don’t immediately think of the role of a trustee. But trustees are volunteers too, and the work they do is vital to the success of any organisation. They are the people who have ultimate responsibility in law and make a huge difference at a strategic level in voluntary organisations and charities. There are more than 250,000 trustees in Scotland, all doing essential work, setting the strategy and vision for their organisation, safeguarding assets, making financial decisions, and ensuring the organisation sticks to its purposes and meets the needs of its beneficiaries.
The past year has not been easy for them either, as meetings moved online, services closed or had to be delivered in different ways, safeguarding beneficiaries became more challenging, and funding sources dried up. These demands have meant that many boards need to find new trustees, which is a constant struggle. Trustees with financial or legal skills are often in short supply, but as well as this, boards need people from a range of backgrounds with different perspectives and experiences to ensure diversity of thought and good decision making. The popularity of this week’sGood Governance – Board Diversity & Young Trustees Webinar shows that there’s a real demand for diversity on boards, and it’s equally important to have a passion to help an organisation or a cause succeed.
To be an effective trustee you have to work with other people in a team, make collective decisions, and offer constructive opinions and leadership. You need to commit to regular board meetings, up to 6-8 times a year and give the time to read all the papers and prepare for meetings. Nobody should underestimate the work involved, but it’s just as important to highlight the rewards. Research shows that volunteering is good for your health. As well as ‘the feel good factor’, volunteering as a trustee is also a great way to boost your CV and make you more employable. It gives you the chance to develop leadership skills, offers networking opportunities, as well as experience in budgeting and financial planning, staff recruitment, project management, and managing risk and developing strategy.
So why not think about becoming a trustee? Take a look at available trustee opportunities on SCVO’s Trustee Vacancy Search, Goodmoves or Volunteer Scotland. And if you do become a trustee then you can join the SCVO Trustee Network and also celebrate with us at Trustees’ Week in November.