Serving as a trustee is an honourable and influential position, but should you serve?
Like any responsibility, being a trustee comes with its own set of pros and cons. Trusteeships play a crucial role in the non-profit sector, guiding organizations towards their missions and ensuring the effective stewardship of resources. They offer the opportunity to contribute to a cause you care about and can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. However, it's important to weigh the pros and cons before embarking on this role.
The pros of trusteeship
Opportunity to make a difference in your community - One of the most compelling pros of being a trustee is the ability to make a positive impact. Trustees have the opportunity to use their skills and talents to help others. They can also make a difference in the lives of the charity's beneficiaries.
Chance to learn new skills and gain experience in a non-profit management - Serving as a trustee provides an invaluable opportunity for personal growth and development. Trustees have the opportunity to work with a team of dedicated volunteers and to learn from experienced professionals. You will acquire new skills, broaden your knowledge, and enhance your understanding of governance, leadership, and organizational dynamics, fostering your own professional and personal growth.
Networking and connections - Being a trustee often involves working closely with other professionals, fellow trustees, and stakeholders. This can expand your professional network and provide opportunities for collaboration, partnerships, and learning from others with diverse backgrounds and expertise.
Learning about a cause - By becoming a trustee of an organization that aligns with your interests or passions, you can deepen your understanding of a specific cause or social issue. This can be intellectually stimulating and personally fulfilling, as you become more knowledgeable about the challenges, opportunities, and impact within that field.
The cons of trusteeship
While there are many advantages to serving as a trustee, there are some potential challenges and cons to consider. Some of the most common challenges include:
The required time commitment - Being a trustee requires a significant time commitment. Trustees are expected to attend board meetings, participate in decision-making, and actively contribute to the organization’s governance. This can be a lot of work, especially for small charities with limited resources and particularly for individuals with busy schedules or other commitments.
Potential for legal liability - Trustees have legal and regulatory responsibilities that must be adhered to. They are required to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations, including financial reporting requirements, fundraising regulations, and governance guidelines. Failing to meet these obligations can lead to legal consequences and reputational damage for both the charity and the trustee.
Potential for conflicts of interest - Trustees may encounter situations where their personal or professional interests' conflict with the best interests of the charity. For example, a trustee who owns a company that provides services or products to the charity may be tempted to make decisions that benefit themselves rather than the charity.
Voluntary role - Being a trustee is typically a voluntary position, meaning it is unpaid. While it can be personally fulfilling, the lack of financial compensation may deter individuals who rely on paid work for their livelihood or who have financial constraints.
Other blogs in this series
Are you ready to become a Charity Trustee at Music Support?
As a trustee of Music Support, you will have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of those working in the music industry. You will work alongside the dedicated and passionate team of trustees, staff, and volunteers, to help shape the future direction of the charity and ensure that our services continue to meet the needs of those we support.