I thought a beginning with a confession would be a better start than trying to describe the role of trustee. I became a Doorway Trustee because I would have been useless as Doorway volunteer! Doorway volunteers cook meals at the drop-ins and befriend Doorway guests and this was definitively too much of a step out of my comfort zone so I must applaud our volunteers and step back in admiration.
How then did I become a Doorway Trustee? I was interested in the work of Doorway and the ethos for a long time and this interest was fuelled by my wife becoming a volunteer. In a demanding job, I could only satisfy the interest by putting money in the collection tin or attending one of the many fundraising events. Retirement arrived and a decision was made to become a volunteer (for something), but with no idea where to apply my talents. By chance the Doorway Board were looking for a Secretary to the Board and I thought this would be a gentle start to my involvement with Doorway.
Welcomed with open arms by the Chair of Doorway Board – after all nobody wants to take minutes of meetings – I was co-opted onto the Board as a trustee in the twinkle of an eye and even before the Chief Executive had a chance to vet me! Whilst I had been a school governor and treasurer for various associations, this was my first appointment as a trustee. Over the last 2 years my involvement in Doorway as a trustee has increased as I have used my various talents to tackle the issues that confront any organisation, particularly one with little spare cash but making a big impact. I now find myself as Treasurer.
Doorway like many organisations is always on the lookout for talent to fulfil the role of a trustee. Look at the volunteer website and the opportunities are substantial. Why then are trustees in short supply?
I have no magic answer, but the formal way that the duties and the responsibilities are described must put many people off. Why take on such a role when you can volunteer elsewhere with no responsibility. As a trustee, like most roles, you are not expected to be an expert in all matters and leading from the front on day one. Like minded trustees and many organisations are there to provide the support you need. Whilst I am the treasurer, I leave the accounting to the professionals. One talent omitted from trustee role descriptions is common sense and this is needed in bucket loads.
Trustees’ Week (http://trusteesweek.blogspot.co.uk) is an annual event to showcase the great work that trustees do and highlight opportunities for people from all walks of life to get involved and make a difference. Make that step beyond just putting money in the collecting tin and become a trustee and more importantly become a trustee for Doorway.