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National Trustees Week

Friday 11-11-2016 - 10:28

As you may have seen from my criss-crossing cross country, this week is National Trustees Week.

From 7 to 13 November the charity sector are celebrating the hundreds of thousands of volunteers who give up their time, expertise, knowledge and experience to ensure that our civil society continues to run and delivers for the people who need it to.

Trustees are utterly vital to the running of charities – be it financial oversight, strategic development, risk management and the ambassadorial roles for underrepresented causes they champion.

Students’ unions have a particularly wonderful story to tell in this area.

The overwhelming majority of charity trustees are 50 and over – the average age is currently 59 in England. The main exception to that rule is students’ unions, where not only do we have sabbatical trustees who are often gaining trustee experience at a very young age but we also ensure that our boards are student-led and have a student majority. It is simply outrageous that our boards are set up in a way that is so counter-intuitive in many ways to the rest of the sector – but are yet so strong.

We’re leading the way in diversifying trustee membership. The phrase ‘board member’ conjures up images of old white men in suits discussing finance – quite rightly. But because of work students’ unions and NUS have done on a) ensuring the elected leaders of students are representative of their members and b) are doing more and more to diversify their student and external trustees.

Supporting and training sabbatical trustees to both be elected leaders and representatives of their constituencies of students, as well as being highly functioning board members – is no mean feat. And yet year on year, students’ unions manage it, and do rather well. Our close relationships with the Charities Commission and NCVO means that we’re impacting on the wider charity sector about what good governance looks like and supporting students’ unions to always be stretching and taking the next step.

So this week we’re in Glasgow, London and Manchester to hold events for student, external and sabbatical trustees to network, develop and grow the capacity of the movement. Not just tooling up people with the skills they need, but talking about the impact of trustee boards, the strategic imperatives that are impacting students’ unions and what a high performing board looks like.

I’ll also be taking hold of #TrusteesWeek Twitter on Sunday to talk up students’ unions and NUS’ work on developing high performing trustee boards, so look out for a good ol’ Twitter storm.

Students’ unions have good reason to talk about the excellence of our governance, the strength of our decision making and to thank the wonderful, diverse trustees across students’ unions who make it all work.

Governance/Legal Compliance/Strategic Development is cool honest,

Richard

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