Being a Trustee is “no selfless act”

 

When the lovely folk at Community Foundation Wales asked me to do a blog for Trustees Week, I expected to list all the reasons why it is a great way to give back.

What happened at the keyboard, however, was eerily reminiscent of a classic episode of Friends: rather than being a selfless giver of my terribly valuable time and expertise, I seem to be getting an awful lot out of joining Wales’ largest independent grant-maker as a trustee…

All the passion, none of the hassle

We’re increasingly aware of the value of being passionate about something in our lives: maybe a hobby, your work or your family – if you’re really lucky, all three. Passion grounds you, makes the struggle worthwhile, helps you carry on and be able to look your reflection straight in the eye. It’s also true that those passions bring a lot of – albeit worthwhile – hassle, worry and some sort of expense or sacrifice.
Not so when you’re a trustee – If you choose the right organisation for you. I’m passionate about kindness and community and so I LOVE what Community Foundation Wales does: they do a fantastic job of helping businesses give back effectively and in the way they want by matching them with the right community causes for them. It’s simple, genius and changes people’s lives.

And it’s not only a perfect match for what I care about, this is a great and seriously well-organised team, so they make it easy and engaging for me to play my small part – all without any difficulty. Hassle-free passion – what’s not to love?

Inspiring learning opportunities

I am learning a lot from a diverse group of people whom I would never have otherwise worked with. From all parts of Wales, with lots of different life and professional experiences, everyone brings valuable perspectives that keep me learning. Plus, I have been lucky enough to take part in some formal training in important topics ranging from the UN’s sustainable development goals to governance, from measuring impact to recognising unconscious bias.

Good challenge

Challenge in business is vital but can unfortunately be skewed by personal agenda. Refreshingly, in my experience at Community Foundation Wales, the boardroom is a place of right and proper scrutiny as well as constructive challenge. Because everyone is united by a focus on achieving the very best outcomes for staff and communities, and those meetings are managed so well, debate is simultaneously thought-provoking and healthy.

Feeling good about what you bring

In our professional and personal lives we can so often feel like we don’t do enough, help enough or just simply aren’t enough and imposter syndrome can creep in. When you become a trustee, you are normally recruited for those very skills you use every day and they are appreciated and valued in the mix.

Taking a genuinely strategic view

I work in strategy every day so looking at the longer-term is my happy place. Often in the day-job, though, particularly for younger professionals, it can be harder to gain strategic experience: I’d suggest the charity boardroom is the perfect place to do just that, especially as many charities would welcome the input of a younger demographic.

 

So, there we are, in the words of Joey Tribbiani, “Sorry to burst that bubble but selfless good deeds don’t exist” – we all get something out of doing them. That has most definitely been my experience with Community Foundation Wales, so I’d heartily recommend having a look at becoming a trustee – you might be surprised at what you get out of it.

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