Tuesday, 25 October 2011
Up until January 2012 Jill Cochrane was a trustee of Dolphin House Charity, a small Brighton-based organisation delivering complementary treatments to babies and children as part of their overall healthcare. Jill became a trustee after seeing a sign in the charity’s clinic reception when she was booking an osteopathic treatment.
She says:“Taking on your first trusteeship is like taking a step into the unknown, but one thing’s for sure – you won’t regret it.
I’d seen how a board operates on the director and management side of life, so when I decided to be a trustee I felt I had a reasonable understanding of how I wanted to contribute. I was sure I wanted be a Trustee ‘in the know’, to be on top of the issues and not one of those people that simply turn up to meetings. I wanted to get my teeth into something given my day job (at the time) wasn’t giving me the same reward when I worked in the charity sector. I was also specifically looking for a trustee role where I could put my skill set to good use.
I rolled up my sleeves and threw myself into the trustee role. My fellow trustees were welcoming and appreciative of each others contribution - all experts in their chosen field. For me one trustee began stood out. I used to think I was a workaholic (!), but I met my match in Alison Pinkham. She is a whirling ball of energy, expertise and commitment which any charity would be proud of. Together we formed a great team supported by the wider board. Within eight months of my joining we had raised £130,000 through some of our most loyal trusts. Alison and I worked together on trust bids – I worked up the core content and she pulled together the sums. We met the various representatives and persuaded them that their support would be invaluable – we were open and honest and most of all passionate about the charity and what it achieves on very little.
There was a lot of fire-fighting and cost savings made, but today the charity is leaner and meaner in terms of its operating costs and a better position to look forward and plan ahead for future developments. The fundraising challenge, of course, continues unabated!
Knowing what I knew still didn’t prepare me for the responsibility or level of involvement – this may of course vary from charity to charity. Size will no doubt play a huge part in the level of involvement of a trustee so it’s worth bearing this in mind. Small may mean getting your hands very dirty – in a good way! I relished the challenge and the chance to get directly involved. Being passionate about the cause is a real motivator and whilst Dolphin House may not seem to have the most urgent cause its impact is evident from the families’ feedback - it’s transformative.
I stepped down as a Trustee after I came back from an extended career break and so that I could focus on setting myself up as a freelance consultant. After my three-year stint as a Trustee with Dolphin House I decided to retain my involvement and am now a Volunteer Fundraiser.
I felt that focusing on fundraising via trusts and foundations would be the best use of my time and skills and be invaluable to the charity given the need to continually raise new funds. It’s been a bit of juggling act with my client work, but we’re currently waiting to hear if we’ve been successful with a £10,000 bid - fingers crossed!”
My past experience of working in the voluntary and arts sectors has lent itself well to securing new clients in both arenas. Now I have a couple of good clients ‘in the bag’ I have found time to secure a new Board position - this time for dreamthinkspeak, an award-winning and innovative arts organisation which creates site-specific work, combining live performance, film and installations.
It’s an exciting time to be joining the new Board of dreamthinkspeak as it is about to start the journey of applying to become a registered charity. The organisation has a great reputation for artistic quality, both locally and internationally and there’s always a real buzz of anticipation when it premieres new work. I hope to add value to the company’s development as it continues to grow from strength to strength.”
If you’re thinking about becoming a trustee, go for it – you won’t regret it one bit.”
For more information about:
Dolphin House Charity: www.dolphin-house.org.uk
Posted by Trustees' Week at Tuesday, October 25, 2011