Trustees’ Week 2018 is taking place 12 – 16 November and is a chance to celebrate all things trustee-related: championing existing trustees, inspiring new ones and informing people from all walks of life about using their skills and experience to support good causes. So what better opportunity to reflect on my own experience of joining a board this year? Here are my ‘confessions’ of a new trustee…
It wasn’t what I was looking for
I’ve been a trustee of a small, local charity for a while and had decided to look for a new trustee role to broaden my experience. But when the opportunity came up to join my new board it came as a complete surprise! I’ve had an interest in the organisation and its cause for a long time, but thought my sights would settle on a charity whose reach was, at most, national. Instead I’ve joined the board of a larger organisation, that works internationally.
I didn’t think I had the qualities the charity needed
Saying ‘yes’ to the opportunity wasn’t an immediate response. Aside from being the youngest person on the board (according to Companies House), I didn’t feel I had the skills, experience or other qualities needed for a charity of this size and type. But my fellow trustees have been brilliant at helping me see that I possess knowledge that others on the board don’t have. We all have expertise and different perspectives which we bring to the table, and I’m no different.
I’ve also realised that some of my previous professional experience is providing really useful insight, even though it relates to work I did quite a long time ago.
I planned to stay quiet at my first meeting
For my first board meeting, I’d diligently read all the papers and had a few questions and comments but had planned to stay fairly quiet and just observe… But that didn’t last long - in the end, I probably talked too much! The quality of the reports, the depth of discussion, and a sense that I had something valuable to contribute all helped to build my enthusiasm. It was really encouraging to see that everyone felt able to contribute, explore different views and both challenge and support the executive team, and one another.
I’ve become more involved than I expected
I’d been a bit worried about how I’d balance the time for this alongside other commitments. But I’m loving my new role so much I’ve taken up more opportunities to get involved between meetings than I needed to… including a day playing with Lego as part of our strategy development!
I look forward to board meetings
I spend a lot of time in meetings generally, and not all of them feel worthwhile. But I really look forward to our board meetings. Reading through the board papers and attending my first two meetings have really enthused me for the role - the amount of thought, consultation, planning and effort that is going into what the charity does is inspiring to see.
Within a short space of time I’ve really become part of the team and I know the other trustees feel the same: they’ve started assigning more action points to me!
Lynn Cadman joined the trustee board of the Baptist Missionary Society in March 2018.
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