Our Trustees oversee the management and administration of the Merseyside & Cheshire Commonwealth Association. They play a very important role in making sure that the charity is run well and in the interests of the people it is there to support. The role is unpaid.
Our Trustees work collectively as a ‘board’. Together, they have legal responsibility for the charity and as such, they must ensure that the charity complies with the law.
What do trustees do?
Trustees ensure their charity has a clear strategy, and that its work and goals are in line with its vision. They are the ‘guardians of purpose’, making sure that all decisions put the needs of the beneficiaries first.
They safeguard the charity’s assets – both physical assets, including property, and intangible ones, such as its reputation – ensuring that they are used well and that the charity is run sustainably.
Trustees don’t usually do the day-to-day running of the charity – they delegate this to the staff, normally led by the Chief Executive. Instead, they play the role of ‘critical friend’ to the Chief Executive by giving support and by challenging – in a supportive way – to help them manage effectively. However, in smaller charities with few staff, like the Merseyside & Cheshire Commonwealth Association, trustees may take hands-on roles too.
Most trustee boards meet four to eight times a year. Many boards have subcommittees that focus on particular areas of work or projects. Where they do, trustees are often expected to get involved with one or more sub-committees, as well as having a good understanding of their charity’s work overall.
Why become a trustee?
The Liverpool Commonwealth Association is currently seeking 8 trustees, so you will be filling a vital role.
Being a trustee can be very rewarding. As a trustee you have the chance to support and shape the work and strategic direction of an organisation, and you can make a significant difference to a cause that matters to you.
You may choose to get involved with a charity focused on a cause or an issue you are passionate about or because your life has been touched by the work of that voluntary organisation. It is also a great way to get involved in a community or find out more about the not-for-profit sector.
Being a trustee offers the opportunity for professional development. It can let you gain experience of strategy and leadership, and boost your CV. It will give you experience of being a non-executive director, such as setting a strategic vision, influencing and negotiation, and managing risk. If you already have significant experience in these areas, it can be stimulating to use it in a different and potentially challenging context. Trustees often say that being a board member has been one the richest sources of learning in their professional lives.
As a trustee, you are part of a team and will have the opportunity to apply your unique skills and experience while learning from others. Working closely with a passionate team of people who have different perspectives is often one of the most enjoyable aspects of the role.
Who can become a trustee?
Almost anyone become a trustee.
Trustees come from all walks of life – what they have in common is a desire to create positive change in society. Some are retired or not working, but many work full- or part-time. Most find trusteeship fits conveniently around work, home and other commitments
Charities benefit from having trustees with different skills, experiences and perspectives because a diverse board of trustees can make well-rounded decisions. Each charity will also want a board that reflects the people and communities it serves, to help it be as effective as possible. So most people will have something to offer as a trustee, including those who care passionately about the work of the charity and who have a range of life experiences (for example first-hand experience of using the charity’s services).
Most people over the age of 18 can become trustees, but a few will not be eligible (for example if you are disqualified as a company director). The Charity Commission provides guidance on who can’t be a trustee.
What skills and qualities do trustees need?
The skills and experience that a charity will look for in a trustee will vary, but usually depend on:
Charities sometimes look for people with specific professional expertise – for example in finance, marketing or human resources. Sometimes they want someone with expertise in their cause, or with first-hand experience of the issues they focus on.
At other times, charities may be seeking people who can work at a strategic level and contribute more broadly.
What are a trustee’s main duties and responsibilities?
All charity trustees have legal responsibilities.
However, each organisation is different, so you should also find out the situation at the organisation you are considering joining.
Trustees are not expected to be experts in every area but they are expected to use reasonable care in applying their skills and experience, and to involve professionals – including lawyers – where needed.
How much time does being a trustee take?
Each organisation will expect its trustees to spend a different amount of time on the role. The LCA trustees meet every month.
It is important to be realistic about how much time you can commit, and when, to the potential role. The charity’s needs are likely to be made up of a range of activities that may occur at different times of the day and vary across the year. Frequently asked questions and their answers are included below:
How do I apply to be a trustee?
It’s a straightforward process to apply for a trustee opportunity at the Merseyside & Cheshire Commonwealth Association. We have a set of criteria for trustees that include:
When you’re ready to start, please contact the Liverpool Commonwealth Association on email address firstname.lastname@example.org or call Garth Dallas (our Chair) on +447793771275. We will need a profile/application completed which we will then send you.
How easy is it to become a trustee?
It is important that you ask any questions you may have and raise any doubts with the charity before making a commitment to join a board. This is as important for them as it is for you, and may lead to one or both of you deciding that you may be a better fit elsewhere.
Don’t be downhearted if your first application to us is turned down. Charities do turn down applicants sometimes, either because they feel that someone else offers a better fit or because they don’t fully understand what a candidate offers. Make sure that your skills are clearly described in your profile / application and that you have included all relevant information, such as why you are interested in the Liverpool Commonwealth Association’s cause.
How and when do I commit to an organisation?
Also, before you apply for any role, do your research by visiting our Twitter account, Facebook page and website. Website: www.thelca.org, Twitter: https://twitter.com/mycommonwealth and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LiverpoolAndRegionCommonwealthAssociation/.
You can ask to meet or speak with an existing senior trustee and/or the Chair of the organisation as part of the process, either before or after you submit your application. If you are still unsure, you can also ask to attend a board meeting on email address email@example.com or call Garth Dallas (our Chair) on +447793771275.
Some charities have a formal recruitment process when appointing trustees while others like the Liverpool Commonwealth Association opt for informal meetings. Either way, there is no need to make a commitment to a trustee role until you are happy that the Liverpool Commonwealth Association is right for you and that you can fulfil the role.
How do I choose a good trustee role?
Becoming a trustee is a significant commitment, so it is important to make sure you know why you are taking on a role and what is expected of you before you say yes (or no).
Some boards are better than others at helping you find the answers you want. Be polite and tactful, but persistent. The Liverpool Commonwealth Association is pleased that you are giving the role such careful consideration, so our reaction to your questions is worth considering, as well as the answers we give you.
Points you may want to consider
The simplest question is – do you want to get involved?
When you’re ready to start, please contact the Liverpool Commonwealth Association on email address firstname.lastname@example.org or call Garth Dallas (our Chair) on +447793771275. We will need a profile/application completed.