National Trustee Week – A Closer Look at What Our Trustees Do
Being a trustee of KOAC …
I had never imagined being a trustee of a charity before KOAC. In the past, I have spent a lot of time raising money for various different charities and was taught from a young age to get involved with fund raising whenever I could. Yet I hadn’t ever given thought to actually joining a charity and being on the other side of fundraising.
There was no hesitation from me when I was asked to join, it really was a very simple decision and I couldn’t wait to be involved from day one. Having a family member fighting cancer at that time, I saw how everyone pulled together and then being part of the team that achieved Guinness World Record for charity. These were the two main reasons for me to get involved. The drive and passion of the other trustees just confirmed that I had joined something special.
During the early days; before we were officially registered with the Charity Commission, we fast realised the challenge that lay in front of us before we could even begin to fund raise and help people.
Firstly, we needed the infrastructure. In our first meeting with my fellow co-founders, I was asked if I would like to be the Charity Secretary, something I was keen to do as it plays into my skill set. This role includes taking minutes at our monthly meetings, sorting the emails, setting up and running our social media, as well as writing the policies that would form part of the governance of KOAC. Being a trustee is so much more than just the day to day tasks that form my role.
As the board of KOAC we have a rule that no trustee has a higher position than anyone else and all voting rights are equal. A Trustees title is simply a job role. For instance, Ben is our chairman by title whilst Dan is Treasurer, this means one organises the structure and chairs the meetings, whilst the other keeps an eye on the accounts and all things monetary. Whilst there are skills they both possess that make them excellent in their roles, neither have any more power than anyone else. We have always been keen to emphasise that we should all have an equal and fair say on how KOAC is run.
This guideline has been maintained as we have added new trustees. It is really important to the charity that each of us has a skill set that was identified and each of us brings something different; everyone is made to feel like their contribution is as significant as each other’s.
The responsibilities the board members and I share are many and varied, including deciding where our money is spent and on what, fundraising ideas, ways to raise our profile and ensuring we are complying with the Charity Commission and our own Governance Document. We all have different opinions and different personalities, but that is healthy and means that we are very open to ideas and ready to think outside the box when problem solving.
Thankfully, all decisions are undertaken with the same aim and that is to make KOAC as successful as possible, to raise our profile and be recognised as a cancer charity that makes a difference. We know that if we are ticking these boxes, it means we are helping lots of people have some respite from this awful illness that affects so many.
Within the last year, I have had the pleasure of speaking to the people that we help. I make contact, arrange to meet them (if we can) and keep them informed of the progress of their event. It’s amazing getting to know them and finding out what they would like to do. It is very important to all of us that what we arrange is special so they can just focus on the time with their friends and families, having fun and creating lifelong memories. My aim with any event is to have everything, to the finest detail organised to make it stress free for everyone.
Obviously this takes organisation and hard work, but it also takes a slice of good luck. We have been fortunate that we have had a lot of really nice companies and people that can’t do enough to help KOAC and myself with these trips.
I really enjoy the part that I get to play within the charity. It can be challenging at times but each trustee has the same drive and that is to make KOAC what we know it can be and help lots of families along the way!
Some people have asked the question whether it is difficult for me being the only female out of the seven trustees. To be honest, it really isn’t. The founding members were put in place due to the skills they possessed and the fact that they were heavily involved with the Guinness World Record. We knew there was a shared passion for setting up KOAC.
Diversity is rightly a very important topic in the world today and we realise that with are dealing with a disease that does not discriminate, so we explore a number of options any time we have added to our trustee numbers. We have been keen to utilise people we already know; mainly as we are in the early stages of being a charity and we knew where our talents are lacking so we made shortlists out of potential candidates had these skills.
In the times we have added to the board, we ensure that discuss a number of candidates and all members have to agree on the most appropriate person for what we are looking for at that time. Sitting here right now, I think our recruitment has been excellent.
Future as a Trustee…
My plan for the next 6 months – I have spent the last few weeks researching ways we can reach out and help more people and the different ways that we can offer help. This will always be my main focus moving forward as it’s fundamental to what we do. However, we have some exciting projects coming up which I cannot wait to get my teeth into including our 2019 Guinness World Record attempt (more on that to follow in due course) and the Newport Marathon (there’s still a couple of places left for this, if you fancy donning your running shoes).
Often people ask what is the best thing about being involved in running a charity and is it worth it. I don’t have an original answer, but my favourite part is helping people giving them exactly what they ask for and hearing their stories afterwards. Let’s face it, it is why we are doing this in the first place!
As for whether it is worth it, yes probably doesn’t do it justice. The sense of pride we all feel when we are able to help is bigger than I ever thought it would be. People and their families are going through the biggest fight of their lives and if we can help for one day, one weekend or for however long they need us, then it is the least we can do.
There is also an overwhelming amount of generosity from our supporters, we are new to this and rely heavily on peoples donations. The kindness that is shown to us to aid us with our goals never ceases to impress me. And as I have already mentioned we have been extremely lucky with the donations received along with the support we are given from family, friends and businesses.
I look forward to more of this in 2019 and beyond!
While reading this, if you know someone that would benefit from our help, please, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!