Small Charity Week Team
May 14th, 2013 by Guest Contributor

Conchita from The FSI guest blogs in the run-up to 2013’s Small Charity Week.

Recent research by the FSI into the skills gaps within the small charity sector has shown that charitable organisations with an annual turnover under £1.5 million continue to struggle in key areas which impacts on their ability to deliver services.

The full report shows that as small charities prioritise the use of funding to deliver frontline programmes, they are increasingly unable to train or develop staff and volunteers. 66% of respondents stated there was no funding available for training and development, while 37% said there would be no room to improve their charitable services, which could impair the quality delivered to beneficiaries.

Small charities reported that impact reporting, long-term strategic planning and marketing were the areas in which they were struggling to plug this skills gap in their organisation. To see the full report, please click here.

Small Charity Week 2013 will be taking place between the 17th-22nd June and aims to address some of the issues raised by small charities as areas in which they struggle. Small charities can sign up to six days of free initiatives and competitions, including cash prizes, pro-bono advice and guidance from third sector and business experts including, the FSI, Reach, Oxfam and Credit Suisse to name a few. Also available will be opportunities for small charities to engage with policy makers and influencers when Nick Hurd, Minister of Civil Society hosts a cross-party event at Westminster on Policy Day.

Small charities have told us they continue to rely heavily on volunteers to support their activity and for the first time the FSI are including a Volunteering Day into the week’s programme to help small charities to promote their volunteer opportunities and find the skills they need for their organisation. We are excited to be working alongside Reach to support charities on this day.

The full breakdown for the week is as follows:

  • I Love Small Charities Day – 17 June: Three competitions to win funds for your charity
  • Big Advice Day – 18 June: Pro-bono advice on any charity topic of your choosing will be available from experts across the sector and business leaders either face to face or via phone or Skype
  • Policy Day – 19 June: Local and national events will be held to support engagement between small charities and policy makers and influencers
  • Volunteering Day – 20 June: Showcase your small charity volunteering opportunities and register for free events including a Media Trust speed-matching event.
  • Fundraising Day – 21 June: Take part in a number of competitions and initiatives to raise vital funds for your small charity for FREE, including the chance to win a share of £1,000 from the Vodafone Foundation, to raise funds from eBay users during Small Charity Week or receive your quiz toolkit to run your own community event.
  • Celebration Day – 22 June: Book your free charity stand to engage with the public at a mini festival held in central London, or why not run your own event to celebrate your amazing work.

Small charities can sign up to all of the free activities of Small Charity Week through the website and follow news through twitter @SCWeek2013 or the Facebook page

Conchita Garcia is Head of Projects and Development at The FSI. Here she blogs in a personal capacity.

Guest contributors are invited by Reach to give their own take on issues related to skilled volunteering and trusteeship. We hope you enjoy their articles.

Opinions expressed are those of the writer and may not reflect those of Reach.

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November 6th, 2012 by Luke Strachan

This Trustees’ Week we learn that over five million young people would consider becoming a charity trustee.

That research is no surprise to Luke, our TrusteeWorks Manager and Young Charity Trustees Ambassador. “Young people bring fresh perspective, new ideas and professional skills to the board”, he says.

Luke will be taking part in the Guardian’s live debate on the changing role of trustees and charity boards on Tuesday 6 November. Join in to become part of the conversation.

Meanwhile, over on YouTube, Alex talks about being young and on the board.

Luke heads up Reach’s TrusteeWorks team

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September 3rd, 2012 by Robin Gordon-Walker

Reach, the skilled volunteering charity, has appointed two new Trustees – Simon Hebditch, a social organisation consultant, and Andrew Jenkinson a Board level insurance specialist.

Reach’s Interim Chief Executive David Collins said, “Simon and Andrew bring a key range of management, financial and professional skills to Reach’s work. We are very pleased to have them on board as Reach embarks on its next phase of delivering an enhanced and more effective service to charities and professional volunteers.”

Simon Hebditch said, “Having worked for many years in the voluntary sector I have been aware of Reach and the invaluable and unique service it provides and I look forward very much to helping it develop its services and thrive for the future.”

Andrew Jenkinson said, “Reach is a highly regarded organisation and I look forward to contributing my financial and business experience to further improve its services to charities and volunteers.”

Liz Maher is standing down as a Reach trustee after nine years of service.

David Collins said, “Liz has made a very strong contribution to Reach and has been an inspiration to the our Board, staff and volunteers. We wish her well for the future.”

Simon Hebditch has worked in the voluntary and community sector for many years, specialising in policy analysis, strategic planning, campaigning and external relations. He is a Trustee of the Small Charities Coalition and was the first chief executive of Capacitybuilders from February 2006 to March 2008. Previously he had been external affairs director of the Charities Aid Foundation and assistant director of NCVO.

Andrew Jenkinson is Non Executive Director, Consultant and Interim Manager at Andrew Jenkinson Associates. He was formerly Group Finance Director at Barbon Insurance Group Ltd and Chairman of Friends of Hertfordshire Youth Music Groups.

Liz Maher is Director of Centurion VAT Specialists Ltd, a Council Member on Newport Board at South Wales Chamber of Commerce, Treasurer of Friends of Newport Cathedral Choir and a member of the CBI Enterprise Forum in Wales at CBI.

The current board of Reach Trustees is:

  • Bob Fee (Chair)
  • Frank Moxon (Deputy Chair)
  • Andrew Jenkinson (Treasurer)
  • Iain Herbertson
  • Liz Burns
  • Nicky Field
  • Simon Hebditch
A retired journalist, Robin now looks after Reach’s press and PR functions on a voluntary basis.

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May 25th, 2012 by Janet Thorne

With the Charity Commission recently debating the merits of formal training for charity trustees, I wanted to talk about Reach’s position.

I’d agree that there is an urgent need for much more training for trustees – to help them deal with increasingly complex issues raised. However, I also want to clarify and reinforce understanding of what a good trustee/chair does.

One common issue is that boards tend to develop their own set of behaviours and expectations. Where the board is weak, this perpetuates poor performance, and training for new trustees is crucial to arrest this. However even good boards could benefit from new trustees bringing in fresh and up to date perspectives on good governance.

Compulsory training would be problematic, but charities could have an expectation that new trustees would attend training. After all, schools expect all governors to attend training (both induction and specialist / update sessions).

The key question is who will pay for this? Most smaller charities have no budget at all for governance.

Janet Thorne leads Reach as Chief Executive

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June 4th, 2011 by Reach

This is an interesting time for the Civil Society Sector, with many-not-for-profits facing financial pressures while simultaneously recording an increase in demand for their services. The sector is being tested in extraordinary ways and the need for good governance has never been more acute. If the Big Society is to become a reality, it is vital that organisations have the very best trustees in place.

Following the success of March’s event, TrusteeWorks, together with Trustees Unlimited, are delighted to be running another training event for people interested in becoming trustees. Drawing on the experience of TrusteeWorks, Reach Volunteering, NCVO and Trustees Unlimited, the event will cover three key areas:

  • An introduction to the Civil Society Sector
  • An overview of the role and responsibilities of being a trustee/non-executive
  • Tips on how best to secure a role.

You may be a charity with a new trustee on board, a volunteer looking to become a trustee or a trustee new to the role. What you have in common is the need to find out more about that role and the crucial part it plays in the life of your charity.


17.15 – Introduction
17.25 – Karl Wilding, Head of Policy, Research & Foresight
17.35 – Anne Moynihan, Trustee & Governance Consultant
17.55 – Sarah King, TrusteeWorks
18.00 – Ian Joseph, Trustees Unlimited
18.20 – 7.00 – Q & A
19.00 – Networking (drinks & canapés)
19.50 – End

When: 14 July 2011
Where: NCVO, Regent’s Wharf, 8 All Saints Street, London N1 9RL
Cost: £35, which includes canapés and drinks.

If you’d like to book a place, visit the website or email

Reach Volunteering: connecting people, skills and good causes.

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Rainbow colours
December 9th, 2010 by Reach

Reach Volunteering and the Equality and Diversity Forum are planning a new initiative to increase diversity among charity trustees.

This was announced last night (7 December) by EDF Chair Sarah Spencer at an event to celebrate the organisation’s coming of age as a charity.

Sarah Spencer said: “A strong legislative framework requiring public bodies to advance equality is at last in place and we need now to shift our attention to making that work.

“We recognise that the voluntary sector itself needs to change. So we are planning the new initiative with Reach to increase diversity among charity trustees and enable charities across Britain to realise the benefits of a diverse board, alongside the Government’s initiative to increase diversity in public appointments.”

Reach Chief Executive Sarah King said: “We very much welcome the opportunity to work with the EDF on this important initiative. Many charities approaching Reach to recruit trustees already talk to us about how they can broaden the membership and experience of their Board.

“By working with EDF as experts in equality we want to increase diversity among charity trustees and enable more charities across Britain to realise the benefits of having a broader board membership board.”

The initiative is in its early planning stage and is due to be launched in Summer 2011.

Reach Volunteering: connecting people, skills and good causes.

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November 23rd, 2010 by Sarah King

Saturday morning, in Bridgewater (that’s in Somerset in case you were wondering).  Gloomy weather, 170 miles from home, it’s the weekend and I’m at the YMCA England AGM.  Why am I here?  More to the point, why are 70 other people here buzzing about, laughing and generally seeming quite happy to be here?

Well the coffee is good, that definitely helps but we didn’t know that before we arrived.  So why ‘do’ the AGM?

First it’s a legal requirement.  The YMCA England Board have to attend and it helps if  the individual YMCAs turn up to as a quorum always helps with the legal stuff.   Many people still leave it to others though, only about 20 of the 135 YMCAs are represented .  This is typical in my experience of other charities.  It is 45 very routine minutes but I think it can be more.

Second, if local YMCAs want to influence and gain value from the national body then we have to turn up and vote.  This is true for all charities and any membership organisation.   I see it as a bit like the government – we may not like all the decisions and we may have voted for another candidate but if we don’t vote at all and don’t participate at all we give up our voice.

Third, we get to meet other trustees and people involved in making local YMCAs work.  We shared our challenges, raised voices in enthusiasm about new projects, murmured our thoughts of envy at the amazing new facility here at Bridgwater YMCA (definitely worth the trip in itself) and we celebrated the work of the movement. And it was here that the value of the AGM really became clear.  Not in the rules and the papers but in the stories and real life.  At the YMCA Thanksgiving Service later that day we heard stories from the people doing the work and those affected by the work.  We even saw the work in action.  There were rounds of applause and skateboarding (yes, even in an Anglican church) and tears at some of the moving stories.  Those of us there were inspired and more than anything it reminded us why the charity does what it does.

Fourth, there is an opportunity to make the overall event so much more than the legality of the meeting.  Yes we have to do that so it is well worth making sure people attending understand why it is needed and put it in context.  remind those present why the charity exists in the first place and share a both of the vision for where it will go next year.  It’s a marketing opportunity as well, a time to get people ‘on message’ and enthused again.

So to me, more than anything, and my final thought on the role of the AGM, it is an opportunity to reconnect with the work of a charity, it’s people, it’s contribution, it’s plans.  Ian Green, CEO YMCA England summed it up: “We journey together, we journey at times of challenges and exhilaration.  We journey so that there is a place for our young people where they can belong, contribute and thrive.”

And in the background the new sports hall facility was being used – young voices are raised in glee egging each other on.  The noise was happy, energetic and LOUD.  We were forced to use the microphones to hear ourselves.  But did it matter?  No.  That noise is what we’re about and as we finished the formal voting on changes to the M&A those voices were almost a round of applause to the way the YMCA movement has changed lives in the last 12 months.

Sarah is Reach’s former Chief Executive, leading the organisation from 2008 until 2012

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Grouped together
September 30th, 2010 by Guest Contributor

Regional Executive Officer, YMCA England Jim Jenkinson reflects on some of the challenges and rewards of building better governing boards.

The YMCA in England is a large and complex federal movement made up of more than 130 autonomous charities, each with their own board of trustees.  Over the past few years, the national body to which these charities are affiliated – YMCA England – has developed a strategic plan aimed at improving corporate governance across the YMCA.

Over the past 13 years I have been involved in the YMCA initially as a member, then a volunteer and finally as an employee.  During that time it has become increasingly evident to me that a more strategic approach to governance was needed. So, I have been delighted to have been given the opportunity to help work to develop the leadership and the sustainability of YMCAs by championing the development of governance.

Like all trustees, YMCAs trustees have significant responsibilities and fulfil demanding roles. They are directing some of the more complex charities, as many YMCAs have several work programmes with a variety of funding sources and legislative frameworks to adhere to. Ultimately, they are responsible for directing services that support and develop some of the most vulnerable young people and communities.

My role is very much about relationship building; getting alongside the YMCA’s leadership and working with them to help improve their effectiveness. It’s a role which has involved a number of key elements, not least communicating my passion about the importance of good governance and the involvement of young people in decision making. I have had to emphasise that, while the Board might find the process of governance development painful, if lasting change is to take place members need to recognise the level of commitment required of them. And while gently challenging the status quo, it has been important for me to ‘stay the course’, supporting trustees (especially the Chair and CEO) through the highs and lows of the process.

Other key roles involved helping Boards to share good practice from elsewhere in the YMCA and externally. And also offering development tools that can help bring about lasting change and significantly improved organisational performance. In this respect, we were fortunate in the YMCA in that we already had a Board Performance Self Assessment tool and a Skills & Competency Audit.  By combining these with our YMCA INSYNC Governance Standard (a YMCA quality standards framework) we were equipped with some essential resources to help shape and improve governance. Furthermore, as I got to grips with my new role, I found that there were numerous external resources and services that could assist YMCA Trustees.  The challenge was to research the most appropriate of these and then make them as accessible as possible to my client group.

I have always felt that the improvement of corporate governance is too big a challenge to ignore. So, what has all the YMCA’s hard work in that direction achieved in the past few years? I think there is clear evidence that things have been transformed through a range of innovations, including:

  • a specific task group dedicated to Governance development
  • a more diverse group of trustees with the right skills and competencies
  • an investment in youth participation
  • regular direct dialogue with young people
  • a formal trustee recruitment process based on a succession plan and a skills, knowledge and competency audit
  • annual away-days that involve young people
  • regular performance self assessments
  • emeritus posts for retiring trustees to retain extensive knowledge

The governance experts write that ‘highly effective governance leads to high performing organisations’.  The YMCA is a fine example of this, as its work continues to expand and it is driven by achieving its Mission and excelling in all areas.  You only have to walk in to a YMCA that has embraced governance development and you can sense that there is a commitment and a real buzz to meet people’s needs.

Trustees at such a YMCA are now better equipped to make a difference and to understand their role in the organisation.

Jim Jenkinson, YMCA

Guest contributors are invited by Reach to give their own take on issues related to skilled volunteering and trusteeship. We hope you enjoy their articles.

Opinions expressed are those of the writer and may not reflect those of Reach.

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People working round tables
June 14th, 2010 by Michael Waterson

Is team work necessary for a Trustee Board?

Individuals drivers for engagement with and involvement on a Trustee Board are many and various but generally revolve around “the cause” whether from the perspective of desire to make a difference, first hand impact, familial experience or personal advancement by way of examples.

As the drivers are personal so differences of approach and views on organisational priorities will also vary and whilst there may be a broad acceptance that something has to be done to address whatever it may be, if this means not doing something that is personally important or critical so team work and the collegiate approach can break down.

Add to this time pressures on Trustees and many competing requirements it is difficult to remain engaged to the extent that it is necessary – where board members resign because they are no longer able to commit the time necessary are they being a team member by recognising this and the drag effect it has on the remaining board members or should they be considered team members if they push through and remain engaged even though that engagement may only be occasional?

Ultimately it will depend on what the charity and its management team and staff need from the Board.

A further issue for Boards and team work is their size with more members leading to less efficiency as larger groups always tend to break into smaller ones with their own agendas and motivations.  Plus where there is a vested interest at Board level in the outcomes from the charity this can lead to team work becoming problematic.

I would also suggest that team work for a board would need to come on the back of a greater time commitment than say 3 or 4 board meetings a year which may or may not be supplemented via participation in sub committees.  If engagement is only via the board and a meeting is missed then it is understandable that a disconnect may start to arise between the board member, the rest of the board and/or with the organisation for which they are responsible thus impacting on the sense of belonging to a team.  Where it is necessary to have more frequent meetings of a board sub-committee the “power” may move to that committee and other members of the board can be left behind.

So whilst I think there is merit in looking at the team work aspects of charity boards there are other aspects that need to be looked at as well which are equally important – such as time management, managing meetings, separating personal and organisational agenda by way of examples.

Michael is former Director of Finance and Admin at Reach

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May 6th, 2010 by Charlotte Zamboni

There are an awful lot of people who would like to be a trustee of a charity but are waiting for someone to ask them. They don’t feel comfortable putting themselves forward, wouldn’t know how to do it anyway and really rather prefer that nice feeling of being wanted and needed.

Like being head-girl, there’s little gratification if you have to nominate yourself.

My marketing challenge when encouraging skilled volunteers to register themselves as Reach trustees is to appear to be asking them personally. We emailed actual invitations to potential trustees and this overt ‘ask’ became our most successful recruitment tool to date.

Organisations recruiting trustees can learn from this, even ‘cold’ recruitment techniques such as advertising can be used more creatively to appear to be asking people directly to join your organisation. Or do you have a data base of donors and supporters you could recruit from? Often we shy away from asking people to help but actually there is an implicit flattery attached to it. Let’s acknowledge that there is ego involved in the decision to become a trustee and why shouldn’t there be, after all it is the valuable skills and experience of the volunteer which organisations are after?

Or if you don’t have time to do the inviting yourself, use Reach’s TrusteeWorks service to help you find a trustee with the right skills and experience, you can do the asking when you meet our shortlist of potential trustees.

Charlotte was Reach’s Marketing Manager until 2011

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