Sarah Del Tufo is currently Chair of Trustees at the Reading Community Learning Centre and has extensive experience of trusteeship. Sarah has held a variety of roles as a trustee for a number of charities since the 1970s, both in Reading and elsewhere.
When asked why she joined the trustee board of the Reading Community Learning Centre, Sarah’s answer was simple: “Because I was asked!” Indeed, reports suggest that this is one of the most frequently reported reasons that people become trustees – and also the reason why most people donate to the charity.
For Sarah, it is always important that she believes in the value of the organisation and she is always careful before saying “Yes”.
Sarah doesn’t think that being a trustee is the right role for everyone as it can be technical and demanding, with many responsibilities. The skills and experience needed to be a valuable trustee are very varied and people shouldn’t underestimate what their previous experiences can bring to a charity. Other trustees on her board include city bankers, social media professionals and HR managers. “The hardest thing is finding people with the time,” said Sarah.
Sarah explained: “The current climate of public sector cuts is putting more strain on local charities and the role of the trustee is ever more crucial. We need to pare it (the charity’s service) down and concentrate on the things people most need us to do. The external situation is dire and we need to prioritise and be tougher about what we do.”
Sarah advises anyone thinking about becoming a trustee: “Ask lots of questions of the existing trustees. Have they got an induction pack? Are you going to give me help with this role? Is there something in particular you’d like me to do?” Trustees need to ask about the relationship between staff (especially the CEO) and the trustee board. “Ask them,” suggests Sarah, “why they became a trustee in the first place.”
Sarah has a long list of areas in which she’s developed knowledge and skills over the years, including charity law, risk assessments and strategic planning. RVA has played a critical role in that learning. Sarah explained:
“RVA gave me a sense that I wasn’t alone and their support made a huge difference.”
Whilst Sarah warns against thinking it’s an easy role to take on, she is also very certain of the benefits of becoming a trustee. She concludes:
“I’ve ended up working with an utterly brilliant group of people – other trustees, staff and service users. I’ve gained huge satisfaction from being part of a team that has helped a charity survive, but also helped it develop and thrive.”
For a list of current trustee (and other) vacancies in Reading’s exciting and varied charity sector, check out the RVA volunteering website. For more information on trusteeship you can also contract firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to become a trustee you may also be interested in our Trustee Matching event on 09 June.