COLUMN: Young people are charity leaders of the future
In a very competitive job market, many young people today are looking for ways to enhance their CVs, gain new skills and develop their leadership and management potential. So, I decided to become a trustee last year, at the age of 22, for local charity Assist Sheffield. Assist supports destitute asylum seekers in Sheffield by providing accommodation, advice and other support to those in most need or distress.
The cause is something that I’m passionate about, and the experience of being a trustee continues to be a rewarding one. I fit it around my full time role at South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation (SYCF) and actually find that the two roles complement each other really well.
Being a trustee helped me to develop my leadership skills, build my confidence and get an understanding of the wealth of strategic planning that goes on behind the scenes of every charity, all of which have in one way or another made me better at my role as a philanthropy development officer at SYCF. It is quite fascinating.
However, reading a recent Charities Aid Foundation ‘Young Trustees Guide’ I was staggered to find out that only 0.5 per cent of all charity trustees are between 18-24 years old and the average age of trustees in England and Wales is currently 57.
I think it’s really important that we raise awareness of the benefits young trustees can bring to the boardroom, such as new talent, knowledge and a fresh perspective. It is also important to remember that young people represent a significant proportion of the population and a diverse board which utilises the talent and skills from a range of people with different backgrounds is likely to be well equipped to spot potential challenges and plan positively to engage with wider audiences.
Charities need to start looking ahead and think of the young people today as the charity leaders of the future. Young people are often wrongly dismissed as disengaged members of society. That just isn't true. A recent survey showed that 85 per cent of under 35s would consider becoming a trustee. Being a charity trustee gives young people the opportunity to change the world whilst boosting their own life-chances too.
At South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation, we are currently looking for new trustees to join our board. As a part of our succession planning we are looking for people from South Yorkshire, with a mix of local expertise, skills and knowledge regardless of age, race or background. For more information, please get in touch. www.sycf.org.uk