What I Do
Charity Trustee Boards now have to report on how their they are trained for their role and on how they see the risks facing the charity. I run sessions on trustees' responsibilities, covering the requirements of charity law and how to operate the charity's constitution. This often gives food for thought, as well as reassurance about what is already being done well – which is often more than the trustees think. The sessions last 4 to 5 hours, basically a short day or sometimes done over two evenings.
Working with funders
Giving money away can be harder than it looks. I have many years’ experience in helping funders make their special contribution to society. I work with funders by assessing applications and evaluating the work actually done. I know how to develop good practice and design procedures that really work, for applicants, in assessing applications, or evaluating results. I've even run a foundation as a locum.
Over the years I've also written many grant applications, with my fair share of failures and quite a few successes. Having worked on the grant-maker's side of the fence, I reckon I can improve an application's chances. So I'm happy to advise on applications, talk them through, and prepare and look over drafts.
I've worked locally, and with key voluntary sector organisations nationally and across the UK, so I can make sense of the voluntary sector's context and scale. This includes lots of work for Capacitybuilders in 2006-8. I've also worked internationally, and on the fringes of government. I like taking an 'overview', working with voluntary sector statistics, with directories, classification systems, and web-searches. I'll help you find the background information you need to present your work in sensible context.
Does your constitution work? I'll look over your documents and give you a commonsense opinion well grounded in charity law and trusteeship. I'll explain jargon, and sort out fact from rumour in your legal duties. I’ll draft things for you, and help you brief a lawyer if you need one. I'll advise about how trustees, staff and committees can work together best. I’ll talk through your structure, and advise you if change is needed – or if it isn’t – and help devise reforms tailored to your needs.
I love working with networks and umbrella organisations – helping organisations to share good practice, organise training and information with scarce resources, and relate to government in principled and independent ways. Having seen several networks through from formation to flourishing success, and worked with their national funders, I understand the special sensitivities of their role. I'm happy to work with new committees, facilitate reviews, and act as mentor to senior staff and trustees.
Making sense of data
I'm not a statistician, but I know how to make sense of data. There have been many assignments where I've taken a pile of papers, worked through what they were saying and presented the results in a clear way.
Writing and editing
I’ve written everything from leaflets to policy papers to pithy journalism. I’ve edited a magazine and get a buzz from working to tight deadlines. I specialise in writing about grant-making trusts and charity law, and I’m a dab hand at getting articles into shape – my own and other people’s – and at proof-reading and editing.
Working with members presents special challenges – for example on admission procedures, accountability, elections and co-options, and subscription scales. I know how membership schemes need to change as organisations develop. I'll help you work out arrangements that suit your organisation’s needs, and – more important – how to involve members and persuade more to join.
Do you need help in planning your organisation’s strategy? I'm experienced in chairing and facilitating discussions. I'll help set your work in its proper context, ensure everyone takes part, and write up the results. Alternatively, if you need someone to take a fresh look, I'll give you an independent and sympathetic view from an outside perspective. Either way, I’m a good resource to have around. I've worked with voluntary bodies large and small, but am happiest working with medium-sized organisations that are trying to grow.
Dealing with complaints and quarrels can be very disturbing and disruptive, especially if your organisation is small and the issues are not clear-cut. Have you thought about bringing in an independent examiner to look into things confidentially? I know how to listen fairly, analyse issues, and suggest solutions.
This is a new area for me. It was born first out of curiosity about my own family. But so many of the resultant conversations with friends continued with them asking me for advice about their own families, so it has led further. See my new Genealogy page for more information and if you're interested in my helping you professionally.
Speaking and teaching
I’m used to leading seminars and speaking in public. I have often spoken or led sessions on topics such as: Charity law; the Responsibilities of Trustees; Good Governance; How to raise money from trusts; Good grant-making; How to run small grant schemes. I hope, in the spirit of the Jargon Buster, I can keep it lucid and light!