The idea of becoming a trustee can be quite a daunting thing to think about for many people, but really once you get stuck in you'll quickly find that there isn't particularly anything complicated or onerous about your duties.

I was fulfilling the role of secretary for a local non-profit games club for around 5-6 years, I've since stepped down from the committee due to health and other commitments but it is definitely something I would get back involved with when my time is a bit more flexible.

With July being Trustee's Month at Volunteer Cornwall, I thought I would share what's involved in being a trustee from my experiences as a secretary.

How did our committee form?

We created the committee for our games club after a few weeks when it upgraded from a few friends sitting around a table with dice, sheets of paper and miniature soldiers to a place where other locals could come and join us to play games in a public space. Once we had a couple of extra people join us on a regular basis, we decided that we needed to form a committee so that we could manage the possibility of the club becoming popular.

This was especially needed as we all pitched in a share of money to rent out the space, so having other locals join us meant we needed a constitution and systems in place for ensuring that the money that other people contributed was only being used for the benefit of the club's expansion.

What does a secretary do?

Essentially as a secretary you are quite often the keeper of records and one of the main points of contact for anyone wanting to communicate with the trustees.

This is a brief list of what my main duties were:

  • Typing up minutes from committee meetings
  • Updating the group's constitution with amendments
  • Answering questions about the group's activities
  • Talking to event coordinators and booking attendance shows
  • Managing the booking of venues
  • Updating the website & social media with the latest news
  • Setting the dates of committee meetings and putting together an agenda of topics

It might sound like a lot of work when you put it into a list, but some of the duties could happen only once a month or even once a quarter. 

Why become a trustee/committee member?

If you want to have some control over how your community group develops, joining the committee allows you to be a part of the decision making process. Whenever a group is going to do something new, they'll often vote on it so by joining the committee you get to have your say in more of the matters that shape the group's future.

It's also a great experience that can help you in a range of aspects of life... you gain skills in debating, you develop your ability to organise things, you gain lots of useful contacts around your local community and more importantly you get to be a part of something that supports the local community.

...Or in my case, it meant turning a hobby of mine turn into something bigger that unexpectedly created a bit of a community.