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Trustee shortage could ruin charities

PUBLISHED: 02:30 30 January 2004 | UPDATED: 14:51 03 March 2010

CHARITIES across Suffolk are under threat because not enough people are willing to come forward as trustees, it was revealed today.

More than two thirds of voluntary organisations in the county have vacancies on their boards and many experience problems in recruiting more people to help.

CHARITIES across Suffolk are under threat because not enough people are willing to come forward as trustees, it was revealed today.

More than two thirds of voluntary organisations in the county have vacancies on their boards and many experience problems in recruiting more people to help.

Charity trustee boards are a legal necessity, responsible for controlling administration and usually independent of an organisation's management.

But a new independent report pinpoints the problems of plummeting numbers.

New research commissioned by the Suffolk Association of Voluntary Organisations (SAVO), concludes the county's voluntary sector "faces a real danger of an ageing and non-renewing body of trustees".

The SAVO report, carried out among 500 voluntary organisations, stated that more than a third of trustees are retired. The report also says that there is a danger of being unable to fill vacancies once members die or become too old to carry on as board members.

But Norman Thompson, chairman of The East Suffolk Association For The Blind, based in Little Bealings, believes more people should become trustees as it is challenging but satisfying.

He said: "It is smashing if you do not worry and I do not."

However, Mr Thompson says the main reason people would not become trustees is because they do not get any money for their efforts.

He said: "Charities have got to have volunteers and they cannot be paid. I think it is difficult because of the litigation and everyone wants money.

"When people retire at 65 they want an easier lifestyle and they do not want to work in an organisation for nothing."

The report also said there is an urgent need to broaden the appeal and pool of potential trustees and to experiment with non-traditional approaches to recruitment.

It said most vacancies are tackled by nominations or recommendations from existing members – but this can result in a lack of new ideas and energy as diversity is compromised.

There are similar problems across the border in Norfolk.

Annie Bell, assistant director of Norwich and Norfolk Voluntary Services (NVS), said charities were under threat if they could not resolve the increasingly difficult task of attracting trustees.

Ms Bell said: "Charities cannot operate without boards of trustees and if a charity really can not have a fully-staffed board obviously there is a danger it will have to fold."


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