BLOG: Why Trustees' Week is obsolete

This week saw the report launch of More to Give: London Millennials Networking for a Better World, part of a London-wide research project on giving commissioned by City Philanthropy. The report looks at the charitable involvement of London workers generally and reveals that networked millennial employees, i.e. those under 35, have the potential to generate £20m in cash donations a year and thousands of hours of pro-bono support by 2020.

That’s just over four years away.

The fact of the matter is that while the majority of those responsible for generating that amount are connected to the City of London, they are also highly connected to each other digitally. Generation Y. The future of giving, volunteering and campaigning, a generation who cannot remember a time before the internet.

This week is Trustees' Week. Trustees are people who are in charge of a charity and charities provide a vital element to society. Trustees have a responsibility in steering an organisation through the choppy waters of change to ensure that they continue to meet their charity’s mission. This includes not just ensuring that they are governed smoothly now, but that they run smoothly in the future. Central to this is understanding the role of digital technology in communications, fundraising, service delivery, governance and democracy. But where is it?

Technology is the crucial link with Generation Y, the sector’s future donors, who have high expectations around what they get involved with and how. It is also a missing link in the governance of a charity.

It is remarkable that even though we are halfway through Trustees' Week, there has been no reference to the digital skills shortage on boards. A brief scan at conference agendas, board job descriptions and sector blog posts about the issue has returned with a big fat zero. In fact general awareness of Trustees' Week has been pretty minimal – and this is us speaking as trustees, not just as part of the eco-system.

Peridot Partners and The Social Change Agency decided rather than just talk about it - as part of Trustees' Week we wanted to DO something about it.

London hosts some of the best tech entrepreneurs, and digital leaders in the world, and we want to find a way to tap into their energy, knowledge and skills in a way that will serve both the charities and the people.

So we teamed up to host GetWired as an unofficial fringe event to Trustees' Week. Today we are bringing together the top 20 tech and digital specialists in London, along with 20-plus charities who are interested in increasing digital skills on their boards.

This event isn’t about broadcasting that charities need to do better at tech. This isn’t even about increasing ‘diversity’ on boards. This is more than that. Using the collective minds of those present, we are going to work out the practical steps that are needed to attracting and retaining technology and digital skills on boards so we can ensure this happens in the future. And then, we are going to share what we hope will be a series of recommendations for the sector to take forward.

Watch this space and keep wired!

Grant Taylor is founder and managing director of Peridot Partners @PeridotPartners

Esther Foreman is founder and CEO of The Social Change Agency @SocialChangeAg

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