Siân says: My first year in post has brought home to me just how vital our trustees are to the success of Quest for Learning. Being the Executive Director of a small charity sometimes means being a jack of all trades – I’m expected to have the answers on finance, HR, facilities management, IT, communications, statutory and legal matters, and more! So, it’s a huge relief to me to know that I’m backed up by a dedicated board of enthusiastic and committed trustees, who come from a wide range of professional backgrounds and have all kinds of skills and knowledge in areas that I’m less well-versed in.
For me, the biggest benefit I get from working with my trustees is access to a trusted sounding board – I’ve had amazing conversations over the last year which have allowed me to explore challenging issues, and trustees have encouraged me to look deeper by asking probing and insightful questions. Being able to draw on trustees’ knowledge and experience is helping me to make the charity more efficient and sustainable, as well as to continue my own professional development as a leader and manager.
Although the role of trustees is primarily strategic, they also give us the benefit of their professional expertise through practical, hands-on support. For example, in recent months our fantastic team of trustees have:
- Coached the Quest for Learning executive team on improving our online presence including understanding the social media landscape, identifying our target audience, setting realistic goals, and planning our content more efficiently.
- Designed a fresh new look for our website, focusing on user-experience and key messaging, and acted as project sponsor for its development.
- Improved the robustness of operational financial processes by designing simple but effective templates for revenue forecasting etc.
- Used their contacts to get us pro-bono access to expertise not currently represented on the Board, including HR and Recruitment support which has helped us to appoint a highly-experienced Fundraising Manager.
Roger says: I joined Quest for Learning in April 2018 and became Chair of Trustees in July 2019. In my day job, I run a consultancy business which focuses on digital business transformation and complex change programmes for global Fortune 500 organisations, so being part of a small charity is a very different challenge!
For me, being a trustee essentially means being a critical friend to the charity. Our job is to make sure that Quest for Learning’s vision and strategy always drive our activities and operations by providing constructive challenge to the Executive Director, as well as to ensure that we’re meeting all our statutory and legal obligations as a charity.
My role as Chair is to keep us all on track and to harness the enthusiasm and expertise of the other trustees. We’re lucky to have trustees whose expertise covers a wide range of sectors, including communications, marketing, corporate management, education, finance, and law. The Board meets quarterly, and we have a monthly finance sub-group. As Chair of Trustees, I also have a fortnightly meeting with the Executive Director to review strategic and operational issues.
Being a trustee is a serious commitment, but it’s very rewarding. I’m able to use my professional skills to support the amazing work the Quest for Learning team do in helping disadvantaged primary school pupils with reading and maths and that’s a brilliant feeling!
Find out more
We’re always delighted to chat with anyone who might be interested in becoming a trustee, and we’d be particularly keen to hear from women and people from BAME backgrounds who are currently under-represented on the Board. For an initial conversation and a copy of the role description, please email firstname.lastname@example.org