I spent most of yesterday at RSA Motivate - a first of its kind event that offered anyone in Oxfordshire with a slight inkling towards social action to come along and find out about all the good stuff happening around them, and how they can get involved. It was a fantastic showcase for the many brilliant initiatives being championed by RSA members and others locally.
With the hung parliament result still very much a topic of conversation on everyone's minds, it provided me with the perfect context to talk about how we all need to step up and contribute our energy and creativity towards benefitting our 'common good' (society rather than self) if we really want to see the social change that is needed right now.
For those who have heard me speak before, I often share a few shocking statistics about the stark disparity in some people's lives and an inability to participate in things many of us take for granted, and yesterday was no different.
I also found myself appealing for younger trustees to join charity boards to improve decision-making, ensuring the strategic challenges now faced would benefit from a variety of perspectives and expectations. With around 50% of trustee vacancies currently unfilled, I believe there is a real urgency for charities to find a way of appealing to a different kind of individual - those would like to add board-level skills to their portfolio whilst they build their career. Perhaps the potential for bringing in the digital skills of a younger generation will enable the sector to really embrace this change. Trustees from younger generations are a brilliant complement to the more traditional type of trustee, who is giving their expertise back following a successful life and career (and making an extremely highly valued contribution, I might add).
We must start to look at greater diversity on our not-for-profit boards to ensure that the charitable sector remains sustainable, something that is absolutely vital given the central role it plays in supporting our common good.
In recent years there has been a lot of research on the benefits of volunteering, both on a personal and professional level and there is even compelling research suggesting that it is literally good for our health. Trusteeship, however, is a unique form of volunteering and brings its own distinct brand of challenge and reward. With up to 50 per cent of charities currently having vacancies on their boards and with charities facing unprecedented challenges, let’s revisit some of the many reasons everyone should consider joining a charity board.