On Monday 16th Nov I pedalled my way to City Hall, Tower Bridge to attend the Inspiring Trusteeship Conference. The event was organised by Greater London Volunteering in partnership with us at Reach and Team London, who provided the glorious City Hall as the venue. Everything was offered pro-bono – a zero budget / no charge conference.
I know what you’re thinking, ‘inspiring’ doesn’t necessarily spring to mind as an obvious prefix to Trusteeship, but as the day unfolded, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed and learnt from the day.
The day started formally, in City Hall’s great Chamber. After the delegates made their way up the gently sloping, spiral ramp, Cameron the chair of GLV introduced himself and guest speakers Dr Alice Maynard CBE and Leon Ward. Alice gave an insightful analysis of trusteeship, focusing on the importance of challenging perspectives on the board and inciting debate amongst members to spark development. I listened avidly as she spoke about her own experience as a trustee and CEO.
Next came Leon, bringing the ‘young persons’ view, which made for a good comparison. At 23, he’d already held many trustee positions and he spoke candidly about his own personal development through trusteeship. He was able to demonstrate how important it was to have a fresh perspective on a trustee board; be it through a younger generation of trustees or implementing maximum terms.
This discussion was followed seamlessly, with a more focused conversation on the specific CEO and Chair relationship within the charity context and beyond. This panel included Ros Oakley (Association of Chairs), Gerald Oppenheim (Chair of The Camden Society), David Gold (Prospectus) and Charles Smith (Chair of the Governing Body at Burdett-Coutts & Townshend Foundation CE Primary School). Afterwards, the floor was opened to questions and I had the important task of handling the roving mic. The Q&A afterwards was lively, particularly when a passing comment on power vs leadership roused many in the audience.
After my 15 minutes of fame, I lingered at the back of the Chamber to watch Janet, Reach’s CEO, present a descriptive Pecha Kucha (in case you don’t know what Pecha Kucha is, check out this link). Her five minutes sharp, were just enough for her to explain a little about our new online service and the tools that it offers for charities looking to find great trustees. As the first of four presentations, she masterfully handled the pressure and left the room awash with questions which was continued during the networking time in the market place, where the Reach stand was inundated with people enquiring into our service.
The other four pecha kucha presentations also provided valuable information in a short space of time, with NCVO on their PQASSO quality mark, as well as the Association of Chairs, Russell Cooke LLP and the Cranfield Trust.
Following lunch, the entire group made its way back up the spiralling ramp, an interesting commute but definitely not the most efficient, to the Chamber where we heard Reena Pastakia talk about her experience of becoming a trustee. I enjoyed listening to her speak. Perhaps it was hearing about the exciting organisation that she’d become a trustee for, Sound Seekers. Or maybe it was just a nice story to listen to, but I thought it split the conference up nicely, allowing for a good balance between discussion and presentation. She spoke inspiringly about how the position had made a huge difference in her life as well as what she had contributed. (You can see Reena speaking the picture above).
For the last hour or so, delegates chose one of four workshops to attend. These were: Legal updates for Trustees, Tips for recruiting great Trustees, Introduction to Trusteeship and Funding landscape in London. I sat in on Introduction to Trusteeship, presented by Janet, who spoke in depth about the significance of any trustee role and the challenges that it may present. After taking a stab at defining the ‘ideal’ trustee board, she settled on the term ‘Critical Friend‘. This is used to refer to the board that is able to challenge and scrutinise its CEO effectively.
The workshop slid nicely onto an interactive chat on Risk vs. Innovation. One of the key points brought up here, was the importance of a board that proactively manages risk rather than avoiding it. The audience seemed more than eager to contribute and some thought provoking points were raised.
To round the workshop off, the group were asked to form smaller teams and then to complete a small task which involved coming up with a strategy needed to solve a specific problem. Despite it coming up to 4 o’clock in a day full of information and chatting with various people, the group remained engaged; a positive evaluation of the event, I thought.
Whilst the last delegates mingled, the Reach team re-grouped and discussed the conference. It seemed we’d all had a good time, achieved a lot and learnt something. For me, it was important to see the great work that people contribute to organisations everywhere, harnessing a lifetime of experience to benefit others. I suppose this is how I find trusteeship inspiring – that people are willing to offer their own skills in a position of huge responsibility, that reverberates globally in some cases but which largely goes unnoticed and mostly un-applauded, except for at events such as these.
Thanks again to GLV and Team London for hosting the event. You can find some of the presentations from the event on the GLV website.
We have been working on these awards for a while: you may remember that last year we blogged about an upcoming governance award to promote, reward and celebrate good governance. Now, more than ever, we all need a focus on trustee boards that are really effective.
The recent headlines about Kids Company have provided plenty of coverage about what happens when governance fails. Every charity needs to take stock and ask: could this happen to our charity? Is our board sufficiently well informed and robust? However, there is also danger that the pendulum swings the other way, and boards become overcautious and risk averse. Indeed, there is a long running critique that many charity trustees are too cautious.
The new Charity Governance Awards will shine the spotlight on cases where boards have got it right. The awards are designed to generate examples of the impact that good governance – for example, a focus on impact, or in leading a charity to turnaround its fortunes. We hope that this will reward good practice and inspire other boards. The awards will demonstrate what a positive and pivotal role trusteeship can be – and this is essential if we are to attract more good people to the role.
Entries for the awards are now open to charities both large and small, from all sectors. We are keen to encourage entries from all charities that have great boards and the awards are designed to be equally accessible to smaller charities. Mindful that such trustees are often focused on things other than entering for awards, we have ensured that the process is easy, entry is free, and that each of the six categories offers a £5000 cash prize.
If you think that your charity has a great board visit the website to find out how to enter. Similarly, if you know of a such a charity, please reward them with a nomination.
The award categories are:
The deadline for all entries is 15 January 2016 and those who have been short-listed will be invited to the awards event in London on 12 May 2016, where the winners will be announced.
Thank you to everyone who took part in the original survey – your contributions and thoughts are much appreciated.
Visit the Charity Governance Awards website to find out more.
Reach Chair, Andrew Dent (with Andy Haldane above) blogs following the event celebrating the launch of Reach’s online service:
As chair of Reach, I had the pleasure of overseeing last Tuesday’s event launching our online service. The new service signals a step-change for Reach, making our service easily scalable, and much more flexible and appealing for our users.
We were pleased to welcome over 100 friends, partners and supporters to our event held, through their generosity, at IBM, to celebrate the arrival of this project.
We were thrilled to have Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England join us to speak about the value of volunteering. Andy’s speech drove home the scale and impact that volunteering has on our society and how many people are involved.
Here’s some facts he started with:
(Source: “In giving how much do we receive? The social value of volunteering“. Andy Haldane, September 2012)
This shows just how vast the volunteering sector is. Andy pointed out that this impact and value is not recognised in the UK’s GDP so it is important that we disclose and celebrate this ‘hidden jewel’.
As co-founder of Pro Bono Economics, Andy said skilled volunteering is a cause very close to his heart – and it’s very close to ours too. Celebrating the value of skills-based volunteering, and extending its impact, was very much the point of the event, and this underlies everything that Reach does.
We know that charities are facing many challenges including shrinking funding and a rapidly changing environment. Skilled volunteers offer a largely untapped opportunity. Of course, charities need money to operate, but when charities can source expertise for free, that money goes a lot further. Talented volunteers can provide technical expertise, advice and fresh perspectives, supporting and strengthening trustee boards, extending charities’ capacity, or helping them to innovate.
Fortunately, there is an abundance of people who want to use their skills to help. Through our new online service, we can help them to find the right opportunity, where their skills can make a big difference. Charities too will find it easier to secure the volunteers or trustees they need; they can now see the profiles of people offering their expertise, and this means they can approach volunteers directly and encourage them to consider helping them.
For us at Reach, the shift to self-service means that our service is now scalable, and so we can help many more charities and many more volunteers find their match. As Andy kindly said on the night:
“If you harness the skills of an individual it makes them much more likely to volunteer over time. Effective skills-based volunteering, which Reach pioneered 36 years ago, has taken a significant shift forward with the new Reach online service, helping to match volunteers to charitable activity. The service will help Reach to be more scalable which translates into massive benefits for volunteers, charities and ultimately for society and the economy at large. Huge congratulations for everything Reach has achieved.”
Please help us by sharing our new service with your friends and colleagues if they want to volunteer, and with any charities that might need a little extra assistance. Thanks again to IBM for hosting us, to everyone involved in the project, and finally to Andy for joining us.
It was a pleasure to see so many engaged and dedicated people in one room.
After many months of development and testing we are excited to announce the launch of Reach’s new digital service!
It connects charities in need of expertise with people who want to volunteer their skills and we believe that it will revolutionise skills-based volunteering in the UK. We are so pleased to share it with you.
Why skills-based volunteering can answer many of today’s problems
Why have we built this new service? It is a difficult time for charities: they must balance rising demand from service users with falling income. Pulled between the desire to do everything they can to help the people they were set up to help, and the need to manage the organisation wisely and sustainably, charities need a strong board of trustees, and effective management. And there are plenty of other challenges too. How to stay relevant, or even visible, in a fast evolving digital environment? How to address the change from grant funding to commissioning? Even small charities need to draw on a wide array of expertise to be successful today. Yet most charities are seriously undercapitalised.
Skills-based volunteering can help bridge this gap between need and resources. Of course charities need money to function – but donated expertise can make that money go a lot further. In fact, in our experience, donated expertise is often just as effective as paid for expertise, sometimes more so. And happily, there is an abundance of people willing to volunteer their skills. They just need to be asked. For example, a recent report from City Philanthropy found that 53% of London workers under 35 year want to volunteer more. And the factor that would most encourage them do this? Someone to match their skills and experience to the appropriate charity….
Matching skills and experience
We’ve built our new online service to make it easier for charities to find, and to ask, skilled volunteers to help them. We’ve always been amazed by the fantastic calibre and generosity of the volunteers on our database, but sometimes they languished there, unasked but waiting. So we have created searchable public profiles for volunteers, and the ability for charities to contact suitable candidates directly. We hope that it will inspire charities to ask for a more creative range of help, and encourage people considering volunteering to make the leap.
We’ve also made it easier for professionals to find the right opportunity to volunteer their skills. You can get suitable roles delivered to your inbox, or create a profile and let charities find you. You can also ask questions of the charity before deciding to apply.
Increasing the impact
We want volunteering to be successful: for the volunteers to have a real impact on the charities they join, and to find the experience rewarding. For this to happen, it is not enough just to connect volunteers with organisations.
People come to volunteering with wildly varying attitudes and expectations – and that is true of both charities and volunteers. Charities vary hugely in terms of their size, culture and maturity. Our volunteers come from different industries, sectors, and stages of life. Add to this mix the fact that volunteer recruitment involves more negotiation than paid recruitment, and it is not surprising that misunderstandings and frustrations can arise.
And our solution? We have tried to tackle these problems in a number of ways. We have created a Knowledge Centre about volunteering and trustee recruitment, and we also offer one to one advice. To encourage follow through by charities, we have developed a system of online messaging with prompts and nudges. And we ask everyone – volunteers and charities – to sign up to the same community agreement, to help set mutual expectations. We will be watching with interest to see how this all works, and jumping in to help where necessary.
Of course, this is really just the start of the work. We will be developing, refining and extending the service on an ongoing basis. So please let us know what you think. We are keen to hear feedback!
And finally, thank you!
Building this online service has been a big project for Reach, and we’ve had a lot of help. Many volunteers and charities have given us valuable input at several stages, including the initial needs analysis and research, and several rounds of user testing.
An award from the Cabinet Office Innovation in Giving programme, and generous grants from Dulverton and The Clothworkers’ Company have financed the build. However, that is only half the story. Fittingly for a project which is all about fostering donated expertise, we have had pro bono support from IBM, Wildman and Herring, Nesta, and SAP via LawWorks.
The greatest contribution, however, has come from Reach’s own team of volunteers who have been instrumental in many key areas such as writing tender documents and database scripts, scoping the functionality, overseeing design work, organising the hosting set up, and much more… thank you!
We are very excited to have launched our new website and digital service. You are one of our early visitors – and we need your help!
Our new website is a new way of connecting charities and skilled volunteers and puts the power into your hands. You can search for volunteers, or for volunteering opportunities, and you can contact people directly on the website.
Reach vets every opportunity and volunteer to ensure that you’ll find only high-impact volunteering opportunities, and people with valuable experience that they are keen to share. We’re here to provide support – have a look at our Knowledge centre, or feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
We need your help
Our new website is currently in ‘beta’ which means we need your help to explore and test the different functions. You might stumble across a bug – please let us know if you do! We are keen to have all your feedback about what works well, and what doesn’t. We will be developing and tweaking the site regularly, and your input is crucial.
This platform has been developed with the help and input of many volunteers and charities, who have contributed to the initial research and through many stages of testing. With your help we can continue to develop and improve it, and enable many more charities to find their ideal volunteer.
We are giving our new website time to bed in these first few weeks. Once we start publicising it, we’d love your support in this too. We will post more news shortly so please keep an eye on our blog.
We are excited to launch our annual review for 2014/15!
It’s been a jam-packed year where we have grown upon our success from previous years: we’ve seen demand from charities grow particularly in the trustee recruitment sphere, new partnerships were developed and a record number of matches made.
Many of our matches this year were trustees, in part due to our Matching service which in November 2013 was made free for charities with a turnover of under £1 million.
Here are some of the year’s highlights:
We are now looking forward to an even better year ahead as we await the launch of our new digital platform.
You may have seen in previous blogs (you can read more here and here) that we have been developing a innovative digital platform which will make it easier for charities and volunteers to find each other and put the power to search and connect in their hands.
We have been developing the new site throughout 2014 and we are pleased to say that we are on the home stretch so we look forward to delivering this to you soon.
You can download our 2014/2015 annual review on our website.
I hope you enjoy it!
Our new online service is almost here: we will shortly be up and running!
You may have seen in previous blogs we have been developing a new website which will make it easier for charities and volunteers to connect. Once launched it will give you the power to search for opportunities and skilled people, and make direct contact with the people who most interest you.
It has been a long (and sometimes hard!) road of scoping, prototyping, building and testing at every stage… but we are excited to say we are now in the final phase of bug fixing and data migration.
It is a complex project with many interdependencies, so there may be more time slip, but we expect to be live by mid-August. We will be running a reduced service throughout July, whilst we migrate data and prepare to go-live. Whilst we continue to forward applications from volunteers for existing opportunities, we stopped taking on any new roles on Monday 29th June and we stopped taking on new volunteers from Friday 3rd July. From the end of July (Thursday 30th July) we will close our current volunteer portal which means for a few days registered volunteers will not be able to apply for any roles.
When we launch in August, we will issue new logins to all our volunteers and charities (which have open roles). You can then log in, check details and start using our new service. You can also register as a new volunteer and and register new volunteering opportunities again.
Our Premium and Matching Plus TrusteeWorks services will continue to run as usual through the transition period.
We need your help
We’re doing everything we can to make this a smooth transition, but there may be some teething problems – so please bear with us. This is the starting point of the evolution of our service and we need our users to help us develop it. Please let us know what works well, what doesn’t and what new features would be useful. We really want to hear your feedback and we will be on hand to answer questions and offer support.
What will our new service look like?
These are some of the key features of the new website:
Better search tools – Our new search tool has more options than our old one. And for the first time, charities can search for volunteers.
Better ways to connect – Volunteers will be able to state what kind of opportunities they are looking for, and create public profiles so that charities can find them. Volunteers can also ask charities questions about their roles before applying.
Charities will be able to review the skills on offer within the Reach community before scoping their roles. They can also then search out people who fit their role, and ask them to consider applying.
Greater coverage – All our roles will be automatically cross-posted on LinkedIn, and to a growing selection of other sites.
Easier ways of managing your applications – Volunteers and charities will be able to manage all their applications and correspondence from one ‘dashboard’. This should make it easier to keep track of things, especially if you are dealing with several roles.
More support – We are developing a new Knowledge centre to offer advice on all things relating to skills based volunteering and board recruitment/ being a trustee. We are also piloting a new one to one advice service to help charities scope out great volunteering roles.
New community agreement – Both charities and volunteers will sign up to our new community agreement. This will focus on areas which often pose problems such as obligations and rights, ‘volunteers’ looking for remuneration and poor communication.
We’re really looking forward to our new service going live – we believe that it’s going to make a big difference to everyone using our service, and to increasing skills based volunteering in the UK.
We’ll keep you posted with further news and updates. We can’t wait for the launch and to have you join us.
We are delighted to be key partners for LinkedIn’s Volunteer Marketplace. This UK roll out of their service, which enables charities to recruit volunteers from their vast professional network, was launched yesterday evening, and I was very honoured to be asked to speak.
‘Professional’ volunteering is coming of age…
For the past 35 years, we’ve have been connecting charities with people willing to volunteer their skills. In the last couple of years we’ve noticed an upsurge in interest from people wanting volunteering with ‘higher impact’- seeking to use their professional expertise to make a difference.
More charities too, are beginning to consider how they might better use this kind of pro-bono resource, and how to recruit trustees in a more open, purposeful way. Our TrusteeWorks service experienced a 60% jump in both demand and successful placements last year alone.
That said, we know that we are only scratching the surface. Thousands of charities have board vacancies, and how many more are struggling to deliver or innovate for want of sufficient resource?
The potential is huge
The untapped opportunities are huge, and this is what is so exciting about LinkedIn’s volunteer marketplace. With over 17 million members in the UK, LinkedIn can provide massive exposure for volunteering. People are always more likely to respond to an opportunity that fits them, than to a generic call for volunteers. For example, a graphic designer for an arts festival in aid of homeless people…. LinkedIn serves up volunteer positions like this to match member’s skills, enticing a whole range of people who might never have considered volunteering before. It’s what Alison Dorsey calls, ‘the puppy in the window’ effect.
Our experience of the Volunteer Marketplace
We have been piloting LinkedIn’s job posting and search tools to recruit volunteers since 2013, and have sourced over 500 applicants this way. Numbers aren’t the whole story though: by using the search tools our TrusteeWorks team have been able to find ideal candidates with very specific skills and expertise for board positions.
Of course, the Volunteer Marketplace is not panacea. It is really a tool – and how well it works for you depends on how effectively you use it. To recruit well, charities still need to think through what they really need, how to craft this into a good volunteer role, what skills and experience they are looking for, and how to create postings that will attract the people with these attributes. And most people did not join LinkedIn to volunteer, so they may need coaching through how charities differ, or the rights and responsibilities of volunteering. People who are job hunting with some urgency sometimes ignore the ‘volunteer’ tag, too.
Why our collaboration with LinkedIn is great!
LinkedIn themselves appreciate this broader picture, which is why they are so great to collaborate with. I confess that when I first learnt about their volunteer marketplace I was nervous; given LinkedIn’s size they could have blown us out of the water without even noticing. Happily, they absolutely get the value that brokers like Reach bring to the equation, and have made us, along with Do-it, key partners.
This means that charities can access the volunteer marketplace free of charge when they register through us. At the moment we can only post manually so we post just a selection (if you register a role with us and want us to include your opportunity in that selection, just ask.) When we launch our new platform this spring we will be able to cross-post all opportunities, giving great exposure to every volunteer role.
There is an abundance of great people out there, willing to donate their expertise. They just need connecting up with the right opportunity, in the right way; a combination of lots of promotion and well-honed volunteer recruitment processes. Through our partnership with LinkedIn we can offer both!
We are thrilled to work in partnership with a number of hugely inspiring and effective organisations helping them to access the skills needed to thrive. These partnerships help us to extend our service further.
One recent example is our TrusteeWorks service becoming an official partner and preferred supplier to the Carers Trust. The Carers Trust Network provides support and services throughout the UK to unpaid carers who look after family and friends.
Their vision is, ‘of a world where the role and contribution of unpaid carers is recognised and they have access to the trusted quality support and services they need to live their own lives.’
Carer’s Trust is now proactively promoting the TrusteeWorks services to its network partners and as a result we are now working with them in areas such as Kent, West Sussex, Hampshire and Oxfordshire.
Andrew Cozens Chair of the Carers Trust said:
“Carer’s Trust is pleased to have developed a partnership with TrusteeWorks to help our network partners source trustees with the expertise they need. This is a particular challenge for local charities and we are confident this will be a big boost.”
As TrusteeWorks manager, I am excited to be working alongside organisations like the Carers Trust to help them strengthen their boards and find the right people who will make an impact.
The next step in our collaboration is to meet Fergus Arkley, the Carers Trust Regional Manager, to review progress and I look forward to developing the partnership over the coming months.
At the start of the New Year, we are pleased to announce that we have a new trustee, Alice Memminger. Alice recently joined our trustee board and brings a wealth of third sector and social enterprise experience, working in the third sector as a consultant and senior manager for the past nine years.
Alice is currently the Chief Executive of UpRising, a UK-wide youth leadership development organisation. She was previously at Sue Ryder, where she worked as Head of Strategic Planning and Programme Delivery, and before that worked at Parkinson’s UK, Hammersmith and Fulham Circle and Age UK Barking and Dagenham.
We asked about what drives her, her thoughts about skilled volunteering and Reach, and what she will bring to the board:
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about being a catalyst for change to make our sector as efficient and effective as possible. By building capacity in organisations we can ensure they have the skills to strategically plan for the long-term and become self-sufficient.
Why did you join Reach?
I became interested in Reach when I was searching for skilled volunteering opportunities years ago. I believe there is untapped potential in the UK with a huge number of skilled people who do not know how to contribute their expertise.
Too often, skilled volunteers are not being engaged to their full potential; whereas the third sector is in urgent need of these skills. I believe that Reach has the ability to bring light to this untapped potential, bringing massive benefit to the charity sector.
What do you think you will bring to the board?
I believe the board will benefit from my diverse experience in the third sector. I have worked with numerous charities across the sector, big and small. I can contribute across all areas of the charity with particular expertise in strategy and social enterprise. I hope to have impact in these areas especially and I am excited about joining the board to help Reach grow and extend its impact.
We are delighted about Alice joining us and the expertise she will bring helping charities access skilled volunteers. The trustees and staff would like to extend her a massive welcome and as we enter 2015, a year we are certain will be very exciting for Reach, we are thrilled to have her on board.