Monday, 10 October 2011

Howard Exton-Smith's story...

Howard Exton-Smith is the Chair of Changemakers Foundation, a charity that works with young people to unlock their leadership potential. His interest in working both with young people and in leadership attracted him to the charity. He believes trustees need to be passionate about their charity’s work: “Someone recently approached me and said they were interested in becoming a trustee. One of my first questions was, ‘Well, what are you passionate about?’ Charity trustees have got to have passion. You can’t just be someone who goes through the motions.”

Howard’s role as Chair is slightly different to other trustee roles and he explains that it does involve more responsibility: “The one-to-one relationship between a charity’s Chair and Chief Executive is critical to an organisation’s success. There is slightly more day-to-day responsibility but being the Chair it is a very nice situation to be in and I hope others would consider it.

"As well as the opportunity to talk to interesting, young people who are committed to making a difference in their community, the best thing about being the Chair of Changemakers has been my involvement in the changes in the charity’s work over the last year. We have shifted very much towards an outcomes-based model, focused on the change we bring about. Being involved in this and seeing its potential is very rewarding.

“I support Trustees’ Week for three different reasons. Firstly, I believe it is important to maintain a healthy, vibrant, civil society and trustees are a very important part of that.

"Secondly, I believe awareness of trusteeship is very important and it needs to be more widely understood that these things [the running of charities] don’t just happen. It isn’t talked about enough.

“Finally, I hope more young people will be encouraged to become trustees and that charities will become more aware of the benefits of having a diverse trustee board. The voice of young people is not being maximised as much as it should be. I was horrified to see the average age of a trustee [average mean age 57]. Hopefully young people will become aware of the campaign and think ‘maybe I could do that’.”

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