‘I was inspired as a trustee by the sisters who taught me as a girl…’

10 November 2022

As Trustees’ Week 2022 continues, Charity Intelligence co-founder Lynn Pates reflects on the personal benefits of giving something back – and the childhood inspiration that still drives her…

I’ve been a trustee of numerous charities over the last 15 years, and it’s a privilege to currently serve on the board of Adoption Matters.

It all goes back to my childhood. My background was not privileged, but I knew education was important. I was taught by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at school in Liverpool. They believed that no matter where you come from, everyone should be helped and encouraged to achieve their best.  

After I left school, I began my career in insurance. But I’d always loved numbers and it took me down the route of accountancy – supported by the sisters to get my accountant’s qualifications. I ended up working for their charity for 13 years.

When I eventually moved into the ‘commercial world’, I wanted to use the experience I’d built up and do something based on my personal values in my spare time. Being a trustee was it.

Trustees are the people who share ultimate responsibility for governing a charity and directing how it is managed and run. For me, it’s also about paying it forward and contributing to society. It’s a wonderful feeling of giving back that can’t be understated.

At its heart, being a trustee puts you at the centre of the organisation you’re involved in. The more effective the board of trustees, the greater difference you and your organisation will make.

And the personal benefits of being a trustee are many. Giving my time and energy helps with my wellbeing. Trustee roles have also allowed me to learn and develop so much as well.

It’s not always easy, keeping up to date with continuous development, training and sector changes. But I have learned a lot of additional valuable skills that have enriched my career and social network.

Being a trustee has exposed me to new experiences and new groups of people. It has presented me with new challenges; constructive and exciting ones as well as some more difficult things to overcome. I enjoy being part of a team and welcome the opportunity to add my skills and experience while learning from others.

Following the pandemic, and with the many issues society is facing today, the last couple of years have been difficult for the charity sector. But trustees up and down the country have continued to give their time and energy. It’s a real privilege to be among them.

This Trustees’ Week, I would urge everyone to consider becoming a trustee, regardless of your background. Because increasing diversity in the decision-making process can make a huge difference to each charity, the sector and the millions of beneficiaries who rely upon it every day.

Find out more about Trustees’ Week 2022 here and why not search for a trustee vacancy in your area? Visit Reach Volunteering for some of the latest opportunities.

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