What do young people think about becoming Trustees?


Millions of young people would consider becoming a charity trustee.  That’s the finding from our research conducted with ComRes to coincide with Trustees’ Week which starts today and runs until the 11th November.

Researchers asked over a thousand young people (18-35) whether they would consider being a charity trustee and found that more than a third of young people (36%) would consider it – equivalent to 5,194,000 young people across Britain. But when it was explained to them what being a charity trustee involves, the number of people who said they would consider trusteeship rose substantially to nearly half (49%) of all young people

We know that, according to information from the Charity Commission, 0.5% of charity trustees are 18-24 despite making up 12% of the UK population.  The average age of a charity trustee is 57 and nearly half of all trustees are over 60.[1]

Source: Charity Commission R23 A Breath of Fresh Air: Young People as Charity Trustees

So there is clearly a need to improve the age profile of trustee boards.

At the Charities Aid Foundation we recently published a report  on generational differences in giving, written by Professor Sarah Smith at the University of Bristol which showed that more than half of all donations to charity (52%) now come from the over-60s, compared to just over one-third (35%) thirty years ago with the over 60s now twice as likely to give to charity as the under 30s.

Whilst older people are typically more generous than younger, giving more as a share of their total spending, this ‘generosity gap’ has widened over the past three decades. The over-60s are now more than six times more generous than the under-30s compared to less than three times more generous, thirty years ago.

At CAF, we believe that the charity sector can help to bridge this gap by taking steps to engage and connect people under 60, especially young people.

We think that increasing the number of young trustees would be a step in the right direction. By harnessing the skills and passions of the next generation, charities would benefit from a fresh perspective in the boardroom and young people would gain both valuable experience and exposure to the workings of the sector.

Our research (covered in Third Sector, Civil Society and Charity Times) also showed that 73% of young people think getting more young people on charity trustee boards would help charities and 66% think that young people would be able to relate more to charities if they had more young people as trustees.

63% think more young people should be involved in charity decision making and importantly, more than half (57%) think that they would be more likely to support charities in the future if they spent some time as a trustee now.

So it’s clear that young people are interested in becoming trustees and feel that doing so would benefit them and the charity sector. But we need to do more to promote the idea of trusteeship to young people and match them up with charities that can benefit from their skills and perspective.

You can find our more about CAF’s Generation Gap campaign on our website including the other measures we think we help to narrow the Generation Gap.

For more information about Trustees’ Week and how you can become involved visit: http://trusteesweek.blogspot.co.uk/

If you are a young person wanting to learn more about becoming a trustee, have a look at http://youngcharitytrustees.org/

Chris Saunders


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