Jake Shepherd, a recently appointed Trustee of Parndon Mill, highlights the strengths of inter-generational decision making when it comes to charity governance and the quest for securing more impactful outcomes for all.

Fewer than 3% of trustees are under 30. Despite charities enduring some of the most uncertain times in living memory, this desperate underrepresentation of young people may jeopardise the long-term future of our third sector. Thankfully, for both young people and the boards of trustees they’re seeking to serve, the Young Trustees Movement is working to double the number of trustees aged 30 and under on charity boards by 2024.

As a secondary school and sixth-form teacher, charity trusteeship represented a change in direction from my previous experience of school governance. Charity trusteeship allowed me to embrace my passion for culture and the arts, building upon my voluntary experience with Harlow Art Trust and the Friends of Harlow Sculpture. Yet young trusteeships are far from one-sided, they strengthen and underpin the fabric of our third sector, and bring valuable skills to business.

The greatest benefit to charities and third sector organisations is the ability to succession plan and retain an institutional memory thanks to the longer-term sustainability young trustees can lend. One of the richest benefits of bringing younger trustees aboard is the intergenerational perspectives that certainly complement organisations’ charitable objectives. For me, I’ve experienced this first hand at Parndon Mill. Even the interview process had a strong focus on breaking the ice to uncover the common ground and differences between new and experienced trustees.

Parndon Mill artist holding a textile

There are also huge benefits to businesses and organisations who embrace corporate social responsibility, for example developing staff volunteering days to allow employees to split those same hours across the year and become trustees. They will quickly develop their employee in areas not always possible internally and often costly, such as business development, strategic vision and planning, governance, finance, networking and communications.

The proof of this endeavour, as for all charities and third sector organisations, will be gauged by whether Parndon Mill’s charitable objectives are both rigorously upheld and ambitiously stewarded. As well as how both myself and my employer benefit from the additional skills I gain.

If you are interested in becoming a trustee contact Della Nash at Volunteer Essex, for information on positions available locally.

Parndon Mill have mounted a mixed exhibition of paintings, prints, sculpture and crafts by our resident artists and other regular exhibitors which members of the public can come to view by appointment. This can be arranged preferably by email, info@parndonmill.co.uk, or by phone 07745 871257. The Gallery is open Tuesday to Friday 10 am – 5 pm and Sundays 2 – 4 pm. Other times are a possibility.