Connecting Ripon column with Mark Hopley

The Harrogate and Ripon CVS board of trustees from 2016.
The Harrogate and Ripon CVS board of trustees from 2016.
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The Connecting Ripon Network has a broad range of local charities in its membership. This month we focus on the important role of Trustees in the success of many of our local charities.

There are at least 66 registered charities and volunteer-led community organisations in Ripon and the surrounding villages.

They range from national charities like the National Trust to small charities such as the Ripon Foodbank – and a diverse range in between.

What is common to all these organisations is that each will have will have a group of elected volunteers who will act as a single body – board or committee – to keep a check that the work of the organisation is in line with its charitable purposes.

This appointed team of volunteers are most commonly known as trustees or management committee members but can also be called, board members or directors.

Trustees are charged with managing the finances, assets and resources of the organisation ‘in trust’ for its beneficiaries and so have overall legal responsibility for the work of the organisation.

This month celebrates Trustees’ Week, 7- 13 November 2016, the annual event to showcase the great work that trustees do. It is an opportunity both to acknowledge their work and to find out how people from age 18 upwards and from all walks of life can get involved with causes, and within their communities, to make a difference in their roles as Trustees. In fact, some of the most well-rounded boards and committees are those which benefit from individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds, experiences and skill. For example, individuals with professional or business skills, local activists, service-user experience, social or family experience can all take on the role of trustee. For the volunteers in the role of trustee this can be a great way of networking and meeting like-minded people to work together to make a greater difference locally.

Across the Harrogate District at any one time at least 20% of charities and community organisations are seeking to fill at least one vacant trustee position.

Younger people over the age of 25 are seriously under-represented and are crucial to improving the strength of boards and committees.

Younger people also bring skills that can be lacking on boards as there is increasing recognition in charities that digital skills can bring new ways of working to deliver a charity’s vision, mission and strategy. In turn, volunteering in the role of trustee can be a very useful opportunity for young jobseekers.

One of the main characteristics of charities is that they are run according to their governing documents.

This means that trustees must step down after their agreed term on a board, so there opportunities for new trustees coming available throughout the year.

One type of trustee which is always in demand is someone with financial management skills and there is normally always a position within a local charity for anyone interested in the role of Treasurer. For example, anyone interested in the current vacancy of volunteer book-keeper or Treasurer will enable Ripon Civic Society to continue making their important contribution to protecting and enhancing the historic buildings of Ripon which we can all enjoy.

The general public in Ripon and, indeed, across the Harrogate District will support all kinds of fundraising by charities so it is very important for the charities to maintain the trust and confidence of the public in what they do. A good board will take shared responsibility and a strategic approach to fundraising and there are, for example, opportunities to join the award-winning Jennyruth Workshops as their Fundraising Trustee or Ripon YMCA in a similar role. Both these organisations are also very interested in hearing from people with an interest in marketing and communications or employment law. 

There are plenty of diverse and interesting opportunities for first time trustees in the Ripon area and whether you wish to stake your interest in people, historic buildings, art, culture, the environment, sport or animals you can search for current roles on the Harrogate and Ripon CVS Where to Turn directory for community activities and services provided by voluntary organisations across the Harrogate District.

Harrogate and Ripon CVS runs Trustee Tuesday, regular informal workshops for anyone who is new to being a trustee or who is thinking about becoming a trustee and would like to know more before committing. The next Trustee Tuesday workshop in Ripon is during Trustee Week, on 8 November 2016, at St Wilfrid’s Community Centre on Trinity Lane.

We will be there between 6pm and 8pm and both new and existing trustees are very welcome.