Recognising the vital role trustees play

31 Oct 2016 Sandra Bailie    Last updated: 31 Oct 2016

NICVA Executive Committee - October 2016

Trustees’ week, beginning 7 November, is a great opportunity to recognise the vital work that the thousands of trustees in Northern Ireland do to lead and serve their organisations. 

Trustees play a crucial role, volunteering their time and working together to make important decisions about charities’ finances, activities and plans for the future, giving leadership and direction.

The estimated number of governance volunteers is 53,787 (Based on the State of the Sector Survey, which used findings presented in the Governance of the Voluntary and Community Sector in Northern research report VSB Foundation and Volunteer Now, 2015). That’s a lot of people giving of their time and expertise to be part of management committees and boards of trustees. The average number of people on each board/committee is 9 and the majority of them are 45-64 years old. The research also found that 75% of organisations faced difficulties in recruiting board members. So we need to do all we can to encourage people to take on this role and support them in it.

NICVA’s executive committee has 12 trustees that are representative of different interests within the sector as a whole. They play an important role part in leading and directing the organisation and give generously of their time and skills. We asked a few of them to share some of their experience as charity trustees.

Charlene Brooks, Interim Chief Executive Officer Parenting NI

“I was delighted to be able to take a place on the NICVA Executive Committee; having worked in the voluntary sector my entire working career I hoped that I would be able to being my experience of volunteers, training/education and fundraising to the table.  I have been involved in a number of Committees/Forums over the years including Homestart National NI Committee, Helpline Network NI, Belfast Outcomes Group, and most recently the All Ireland Parenting Network all of which have been productive and lively groups. Being a member of an active and participatory Board such as NICVAs brings many benefits; I am there first and foremost as an advocate for the sector however it is also a good forum for discussion and encourages positive discussion across all Committee Members - which can result in a better understanding of what else is happening across the sector and the development of some sound working relationships.”

Colin Devine, North West Community Network

“North West Community Network considers having a Trustee on the NICVA Executive a very informative and engaging role and opportunity.  It is invaluable to tap in and contribute directly to what movement is happening around the C&V sector at the regional level and the collective approach to representing the needs of the sector is immeasurably important.  The scope to input from the sub-regional level (on changing needs, priorities etc.) is crucial to groups that the Network supports. As the landscape for the sector is constantly changing, the learning and organisational development dimension – both inwards and outwards – continues to work well at all levels.”

Michael  Briggs, Executive Director of East Belfast Community Development Agency

 “I became a trustee because of my passion to see the community of East Belfast changed and for East Belfast to be a better place for people to live, work, play and build their lives. As a member of the NICVA board as well as many boards I have learnt that you are there to guide, support and help maintain and develop the organisation you’re not there to run it.  I've also learned that your role as a trustee is sometimes to remind paid staff about the core mission of the organisation. I enjoy seeing things changed, solving problems, seeing organisations and people within those organisations develop. I would encourage others to be part of a board, you have life experience that organisations in the community and voluntary sector could benefit from.  Take your time, learn, listen, understand and contribute.”

NICVA provides support to boards through our governance and charity advice service and the DIY committee guide is a great resource. Please let know if there is anything we can do to help or support you. We have a Trustees conference on charity finance coming up on 8 November which is a great chance to network with others as well as learn more about finance issues.

Thank you to all of you who volunteer your time in this way to lead and direct your organisations and to make a difference through the work that you do. If you are interested in being part of a board contact Volunteer Now for more information.'s picture
by Sandra Bailie

Head of Organisational Development

[email protected]

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