Last Monday at a meeting of York Professionals I got on my soap box about the value of businesses people supporting charities and especially as trustees and mentors. Quite apart from helping a worthy cause, putting yourself forward to sit on a charity’s board can pay dividends for your career and your sector network.

There are over 165,000 charities in the UK and just over 700,000 trustees. The best charities have strong, diverse boards with a good understanding of their roles and responsibilities and a clear focus on ensuring their charity and staff are clear about their purpose. High profile charity failures like Kids Company often have at their heart a board with weak controls and oversight and a charismatic chief executive who can run rings round the board.

But Kids Company is not the norm and certainly not locally where the vast majority of charities have excellent governance. The board I know best - Two Ridings Community Foundation has a diverse board with a wide range of business skills and many local charities are the same. But I know most local charities are keen to attract new trustees, especially those who have skills around finance, law, marketing, HR and media. This is where my soap box came in as I get frustrated when professionals are asked to paint community centres or dig gardens which is great as a team building activity for the business but isn’t in my view the best use of precious skills and time.

And the other misconception is that you have to have grey hair to be a trustee. Younger people have enormous reserves of energy, passion and creativity which are hugely beneficial to any board of trustees and can offer a fast track experience of board level issues which stands anyone in good stead when looking for promotion.

Anyone interested in becoming a trustee should go into it with your mind as well as heart engaged. Getting involved in a charity cause that means something to you makes sense as you are giving up your time but do your homework before committing to the role.