Susana Morgado Gomez shares her experience of how being a trustee benefits both volunteer and charity.
‘Every year Mind In Camden provides a range of services to some 1,000 people with serious mental health needs and the staff who work with them, in partnership with national and local organisations, and the NHS.
‘I work in the banking sector and wanted to use my skills to make a contribution to a cause I believe in, as well as increase my Board exposure in a different sector. Mind In Camden were looking for a new trustee who, along with financial acumen, would bring strategic skills. They really wanted someone that shared the charity’s values, especially around the core principle of seeing mental health as a continuum on which we are all at different points, at different times in our lives. This means there is no ‘us’ (= well) and ‘them’ ( = ill).
‘In joining Mind In Camden as a trustee, I feel I am making a contribution to an organisation where people are very passionate about their work, but are working under very different circumstances and resources to my day job.
This is a highly complementary experience to the commercial and financial background that I have.
‘Being a trustee is a strategic role, it is not a day to day role, and it’s important to understand the difference. Trustees are ultimately accountable to the public and regulators – so it is important that the fit is right between the charity, the trustee and the chief executive.
‘From a practical perspective a trustee is expected to attend and actively contribute to effective Board meetings and decision making, in his or her area of core competence. A considerable part of the trustee role is about self-education in the sector and the charity to which he or she belongs. This is paramount to help you support and challenge the management team, as necessary. The support angle is very important to maintaining the motivation of the team, but it is equally important to challenge, helping them recognise any blind spots and mitigate risk, or not miss opportunities.
Additionally, a Trustee is a representative of the Charity and should not only be available to represent the charity as required, but also act as an Ambassador for the organisation.
‘In this particular experience I enjoy the different kind of environment and diverse background of the Board – the diversity contributes to you growing as an individual and a professional. In joining a team like the Board of a charity, you have to adapt to contribute – and use your transferable skills.
‘Being a trustee is an extremely personal experience that requires passion and energy. It is very rewarding and very energising.’
For more information on Mind services visit Mind In Camden.
To find a trustee or a trustee role, visit Reach Volunteering.
This article was first posted on the Institute of Fundraising blog on 16 August 2016.
Never has there been a more important moment for fundraisers to consider becoming a trustee. The Institute of Fundraising’s own recent research has highlighted the vital need for fundraising expertise on Boards. And we at Reach Volunteering know of many charities looking for this expertise.
Joining a Board might be about making that mental leap from hands on fundraiser to a different kind of leadership and governance. Does it seem daunting? Do you have time?
Our experience of recruiting skills-based volunteers shows us some of the best qualified candidates hesitate when faced with the idea of a completely new context. Don’t. Your expertise and experience in the charity sector will be hugely valuable to another charity. There are also plenty of support and resources out there. Trustee roles do vary in terms of time commitment, but you can choose the kind of opportunity and organisation that’s right for you.
As a trustee, you will see first-hand how decisions are made at Board Level and put your growing leadership and governance skills to good use. You will undoubtedly bring back learning and knowledge to your day job that will support your career progression in the long term. What better way to demonstrate that you have the skills for promotion?
This is a chance to share with others your talent for raising funds. If you’ve had a career break or are considering a new direction, this might also be the perfect way to put your skills to work.
There’s probably no need to tell fundraisers about the value of supporting a charity – you do that every day! But it is worth saying that skills-based volunteering like trusteeship is making a difference to charities across the country right now.
Volunteers are supporting a range of local, national and international causes in health & wellbeing, the arts, the environment, to name a few. This is also a great way to support a cause in your local community, and one of the many small to medium charities that make up the majority of our sector.
So, where do you find a role? Reach Volunteering is the single biggest source of trustees for the voluntary sector in the UK. First, you need three or more year’s experience to register with us. And you do need to register. Don’t be discouraged by the questions – it won’t take long and we find that going through the process means we make better matches. We placed 506 volunteers in 309 charities last year alone – so it does work.
We estimate that the total value of the skills transferred to the sector by our volunteers was £7.3m last year – you could make that figure even higher and build your career at the same time.
What are you waiting for?
Here are some reflections from a two skilled volunteers working at Reach, featured last month on the Guardian Witness Volunteers Week webpage…
We are two professionals from quite different backgrounds. Approaching retirement after very busy careers we both looked for volunteering opportunities that would provide a certain office camaraderie and the challenges of the commercial world that we missed. Volunteering with Reach has worked for us in a very satisfying way and given both of us an enjoyable lifestyle balance of work and play.
We, as volunteers at Reach, liaise with charities to help them scope their needed roles and then search for and interact with skilled professionals from our database and externally. The satisfaction of the work comes from effecting a match that means the new recruit finds a role which provides a positive contribution to society and the charity gets the support needed to provide and improve its services.
If you are a skilled professional looking for a satisfying addition to your life come and join us – it’s fun.
Carol and Gordon are skilled volunteers working at Reach Volunteering, supporting volunteer recruitment and our marketing function.
The FSI’s Pauline shares her take on the impact of volunteers
When we started Small Charity Week in 2010 we didn’t include a Volunteering Day – that was a real oversight as much of the Small Charity Sector would grind to a halt without the army of volunteers that support a diverse range of causes. Our omission wasn’t intentional, just naive and it didn’t take too long before we realised that Small Charity Week just wasn’t complete without a whole day focussed on volunteering.
Why? Almost every person I have met who has volunteered to support a cause they care passionately about has felt that they got more out of the experience than they put in. And almost every charity I have spoken to say that they get more from the volunteers than they feel they give them back.
Volunteer or Charity who’s got it right?
There is no doubt that volunteering can be an incredibly fulfilling experience for the volunteer. Now more than ever before volunteering opportunities exist both locally and internationally, so it’s great to be able to make a difference in your local community, or on the other side of the world.
No matter how few hours you have to volunteer, no matter whether you volunteer in person or from home, no matter which cause you support, every minute spent volunteering focuses your attention on the big picture of how we all need to work together to make our world a better and safer place for all.
If volunteers ‘get something back’ for the work they do that’s great too. Of course the main motivation will be to give something back but it’s not unreasonable to also ‘get something back’. Volunteering helps you to meet new people, make new friends for life, experience new cultures and see society from a different perspective. Whether the payback is personal growth a new skill gained to put on your CV, or just keeping yourself busy, no matter what the payback as long as it’s meaningful to you, that’s great. What you get back is up to you and you should be clear about what you want so that everyone is clear from the beginning.
As charities we need to remember that recognition takes many forms and sometimes just telling someone that they are doing a ‘good job’ can inspire them, give them confidence and a sense of pride in what they are doing.
Volunteers have a unique perspective on the issues that face the causes they support. Whether taking the afternoon tea around the local hospital, planning the marketing strategy for a community charity or helping build a well in Africa they get under the skin of the issues facing society.
So in Small Charity Week 2014 let’s all celebrate volunteering and understand that ‘everything that goes around comes around’ or at least that’s what my Dad used to say!
For more information on Volunteering Day of Small Charity Week see the Small Charity Week website – all initiatives and activities during the week are free for charities with a turnover under £1.5 million.
Pauline Broomhead is the CEO of the FSI, the charity behind Small Charity Week. The FSI offers free training, conferences and support for small charities across the UK.
Felicity introduces the discipline of Operational Research
Operational research (OR) is the discipline of applying appropriate analytical methods to help make better decisions.
I have recently taken up the role as OR Pro Bono Project Manager at The OR Society. Having worked in the third sector for six years and having never heard the term OR, I can really see the need to raise OR’s profile in the sector.
The idea of providing pro bono OR support to the third sector has been discussed among ORS members for a number of years; a pilot scheme run by volunteers has been successfully running since 2011. Please click here for case studies.
How can OR help you?
Third sector organisations face extremely complex decisions about the direction they should take and how to allocate scarce resources. These are some of the issues the organisations we’ve worked with have faced:
Without the tools to model different scenarios and understand the consequences of them, it isn’t surprising that many organisations tend to rely on gut feelings.
An OR practitioner comes armed with an array of analytical tools plus the skills and experience to identify the critical factors and issues, explore the different options and explain the impact of them in real terms.
It won’t make the decisions for you, but it provides some of the head to your organisation’s heart and, when you combine the two, you are more likely to act in the interests of your organisation and its beneficiaries.
We have already helped several third sector organisations and are keen to work with many more.
If you work for a third sector organisation, would like to discuss pro bono support or need more information, please email me on email@example.com quoting ‘OR in the third Sector’.
Felicity McLeister blogs in behalf of the Operational Research (OR) Society
Reach’s Trusteeworks Matching Service will be free from 1 November 2013 for charities with an annual turnover of under £1 million. Reach believes that removing the entry level charge of £75 for smaller charities, who have limited funds for recruiting, will make a big difference by helping them to strengthen their boards.
Strong boards, with a sufficient breadth of experience and skills, are crucial for charities facing difficult decisions in an uncertain economic climate. The ability to recruit outside a charity’s immediate networks by using a service like Reach is an important factor in this process.
The Trusteeworks Matching Service provides a free, high-quality introduction to skilled volunteers. The trustee role appears on Reach’s register of available trustee opportunities, and Reach’s recruitment teams search their extensive register of available volunteers, sound out candidates and forward suitable names to the charity.
In addition to the Matching Service, Reach offers the Trusteeworks Matching Plus Service and the Trusteeworks Premium Service which provide additional features such as preparing advertising copy for the role and in-depth screening and briefing of candidates.
Reach is the biggest recruiter of trustees in the UK having placed nearly 750 with charities all over the country since the launch of Trusteeworks in October 2009, including 185 in 2012 and 142 so far this year. Overall, Reach placed 500 volunteers in 2012 representing an estimated value of £9 million worth of skills transferred into the charity sector, and registered over 1,000 new volunteers and more than 1,100 placement opportunities with charities.
Posted in News Tagged with: Charity boards, Charity Governance, Charity Trustee, Corporate volunteering, Good practice in governance, Good practice in volunteering, Governance, Measuring impact, Reach in the news, Reach volunteering, Recession, Skilled volunteering, Trustee, Trustee Recruitment, Trustees' Week, TrusteeWorks, Volunteer expertise
Free flowing wine, delicious snacks, gossip and banter. Last night we had a great party for over 50 of our volunteers, past and present.
How, in these straitened times, you might be wondering , could we justify such largesse?
Well, as well as marking the occasion of kicking-off our thirty-fifth year helping the charity sector, we were left a generous legacy specifically for the purposes of holding a party for our volunteers. How often, in the charity sector, are you effectively ordered to spend money on having a good time? Our generous donor was a long-standing friend of Reach, who therefore knew that volunteers are absolutely central to us, not only to what we do, but how we do it.
Volunteers outnumber staff by over four to one here, and do everything from delivering service to maintaining our IT. We couldn’t survive a day without them, and nor would we want to. Not only do they bring expertise and experience far beyond our means but they are such a lovely bunch that working with them is a joy.
Volunteers volunteer for a range of reasons, but generosity of spirit, a passion for the work and being independent minded are common traits. Think about it – who wouldn’t want a team with those characteristics? Charities who don’t engage with volunteers are missing a trick.
As people wended their way home (helped by brandy courtesy of a travel souvenir from a volunteer’s trip to Georgia) the main comment was ‘such a lovely bunch of people’. This was the first party we’ve held for while, but we are now keen to repeat it as soon as possible. Donations welcomed!
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:
Small charities can sign up to all of the free activities of Small Charity Week through the website smallcharityweek.com 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.
Posted in Blog Entries Tagged with: Big Society, Charity boards, Charity Governance, Charity Trustee, Creative volunteer engagement, Fundraising, Governance, Skilled volunteering, Third Sector, Third sector leaders, Trustee Recruitment, Volunteer expertise
Beacon Counselling, a charity that helps people affected by mental or emotional distress in the North West, was keen to improve the way they wrote and targeted funding bid approaches.
They saw an advertisement about Reach’s services and very quickly we helped them to recruit volunteer Alan Smith who has dramatically raised their fundraising game.
James Harper, the charity’s general manager says:
“Alan’s input has transformed our service. As a result of his input, we have a much more strategic approach with most of our funding bids now successful when before it was very much hit or miss. We are now helping more than a thousand people a year – up four fold from 2008 – and have obtained more contracts with the NHS and local authorities in Lancashire and Cheshire. He played a very big part in helping us to win the coveted GlaxoSmithKline IMPACT Award in 2012, beating 351 other applicants.”
Reach volunteer Alan retired a few years ago from a successful and busy career in engineering and as a company director.
“I was looking to use my business skills in a positive way when I saw an advertisement about Reach. Their staff were very helpful and efficient in researching where I could help and quickly put me in touch with Beacon Counselling – since when we have never looked back!”
Posted in Success Stories Tagged with: Charity awards, Creative volunteer engagement, Fundraising, Good practice in volunteering, Improving performance, News, Organisations, Reach volunteering, Skilled volunteering, Volunteer expertise, Volunteers
The recent Grant Thornton report on good governance emphasised the need to recruit and maintain a diverse and effective Board of Trustees with a broad range of trustee skills, knowledge and experience.
This will help charities to be fair and open in the way they deliver services and to be more accountable for their actions all serving to increase confidence in their work.
The report based on a study of the Annual Reports of the UK’s top 100 charities highlighted many good examples of diversity – not least the 31% representation of women on their Boards compared to 22% on the Boards of the UK’s top 100 companies.
It also highlighted the important connection between having polices for good governance and being accountability though providing full information about these in Annual Reports. Being seen to adhere to good governance principles and practice can be as important as good governance itself. There is a symbiotic relationship with the discipline of having to describe in the Annual Report the system for good governance compelling charities to concentrate on how they can bring about and maintain good governance in the first place.
The report sets out a number of recommendations for good governance and good operational practice in areas such as Board succession planning and sets out ideas for what should be covered Annual Reports such as:
All charity trustees would learn something of benefit about how to make their charity even more effective by reading this well-researched and presented report.