Celebrating Trustee Week 2021 – What does it take to be a trustee?

In the ‘new normal’, where the working day is often no longer 9-5, why would someone want to devote some of their precious downtime to being a trustee?  Well, in our experience, people choose to become trustees first and foremost because they have a personal interest in the aims of the charity. Perhaps not surprisingly, this is particularly true for trustees of family foundations, many of whom are acutely aware of the legacy and responsibilities that come with the position and are keen to continue the family tradition.

But philanthropy in the 21st century may look very different to when these foundations were set up. Trustee boards today are having conversations around opportunity and challenge that would have been unknown to previous generations. With, for example, an increasing awareness of climate change, and an understanding of the importance of board diversity, we find that trustees are very aware of the wider potential impact of their decisions. They use their skills, interests and, yes, even passion (especially passion, in fact), to contribute towards improving the lives of others. It is deeply inspiring – and humbling – to be a part of this developing process.

It is also an incredible privilege. As a B Corps company, trustees’ selfless and generous ethos clearly aligns with us too. Yet we never fail to be amazed by the dedication and care with which these trustees serve their boards. They are deeply respectful of the past, particularly the settlor’s wishes, whilst at the same time being unafraid to grapple with current-day issues.

Fortunately, no board is an island; just as the drivers and nature of philanthropy may be changing, so too are the support structures to assist it. Whilst there is always a place for ‘kitchen-table giving’ (charity begins at home, after all), there is also plenty of help available to support their leadership.  The Trust Partnership is delighted to be a part of that network. This week, being Trustees’ Week, seems a perfect moment to recognise the incredible work that our client boards achieve, to say a heartfelt thank you for all they do, and to say, to all our client trustees, you are not alone.

There is an amazing community of support out there. It is our pleasure and privilege to be a part of it.