Five tips for trustees by Hilary Russell

Five tips for trustees by Hilary Russell

Hilary Russell, Chair of Trustees for Together Liverpool, shares her FIVE Top Tips for Trustees during #TrusteesWeek 10 - 16 November. Here's what she had to say. 

Of course, what I should have said when Bethany asked me for five top tips for trustees was that grey hair and longevity don’t equate to wisdom on such matters. But I didn’t, so here goes.

  1. Seek out as wide a view as possible about what you are taking on.  What does it mean generally to be a trustee? But also what does it mean in this instance. What will be the time commitment? Why have you in particular been asked and what specifically is expected of you?  (You don’t want to be saying later “No-one told me I’d have to. . . “. )   This process of finding out might almost amount to an induction before you agree to take on the role.
  2. Once on (the) board, turn up.  As Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up”.  Ideally the trustee body will comprise people with a variety of skills, expertise and experience and so that it needs to work as a team bringing different perspectives together to develop the organisation’s vision, set its priorities, monitor what is happening, manage the finances, and so on.
  3. Clarify and get the balance right between your role as a trustee and that of the staff. When does support become interference or micromanagement? On the other hand, when does giving people space really leave them in a vacuum and over-exposed?
  4. Keep up.  The parameters for good practice set by the Charity Commission are constantly being modified so it is important to take opportunities to keep up-to-date. But the setting for your work will also always be shifting with new needs emerging, new policies having an impact and new players and partners coming onto the scene. Reading, understanding and engaging with your local context is vital if your organisation is to be appropriately responsive.  
  5. Be an ambassador. Any charity needs people to speak out for them whether to advocate their cause, clarify their role, solicit funds or whatever.  For the Together Network, it is important to articulate within the church the vision of an outward facing ministry addressed to the wellbeing of all and to raise awareness of the significant civic and social contribution of faith-based organisations to audiences outside the church. 

Above all, enjoy!  It will be rewarding.  You will meet interesting people, be part of something very exciting and, if my experience is anything to go by, gain more from your participation than you are ever likely to give.   

Author: Bethany Eckley

Date: 12 November 2014