Supporting charities pair with prospective trustees

07 June 2019 . United Kingdom

Bupa recently hosted the East London Business Alliance’s (ELBA) seventh ‘BoardMatch’ event for charities to recruit prospective trustees. Bupa has partnered with ELBA since 2017 to increase volunteering opportunities for employees, donating time, skills and expertise to help benefit the East London community.
ELBA BoardMatch event

The BoardMatch event was attended by 16 charities, mostly local to the East London area, and more than 100 volunteers from local businesses interested in becoming trustees. Each charity gave a one-minute pitch to the group to gain interest from volunteers who then had time to introduce themselves and find out more.

In the lead up to the event, Bupa hosted a workshop with members from its Corporate Affairs team to help the charities build their elevator pitches with the tricky task of keeping to one minute!

We caught up with Jonathan Tait from ELBA and two Bupa employees who were matched at previous events to learn more about the initiative, what inspired them to get involved and why the role of trustee is so important to community organisations.

Jonathan Tait, Programme Manager, ELBA

“Despite the wealth of opportunity in the City and Canary Wharf, east London remains one of the most deprived areas in the UK. Charities provide essential community services but have limited resources with which to do so. A strong board of trustees, which includes a range of professional skills and expertise such as legal, financial, HR and marketing, can play a vital role in building the capacity of local organisations and increasing their ability to support the east London community.

“These events are a fantastic opportunity for charities to showcase their work and to invite applications to their board. At ELBA we are passionate about increasing diversity on boards and so encourage anyone that is interested in becoming a trustee to attend BoardMatch events.”

Steve Jackman, from the Group Risk team at Bupa, and Trustee at ClockHouse Community Fund

“I was matched as a trustee to Clockhouse Community Centre at a previous BoardMatch event. This time, I was on the other side of the table as a charity representative with the mission to recruit more trustees. The centre is facing a severe shortage of trustees that could adversely affect it, while also undergoing a period of major projects that requires active oversight and advice from its Board.

“If a charity doesn’t meet its quota of trustees it has to close. Many people struggle to keep up the time commitments it takes to be a trustee which creates a high turnaround. With Clockhouse Community Centre I’m able to manage my time around work and family and have found it a hugely rewarding experience. The Centre is at the heart of the Woolwich community, providing facilities for numerous organisations ranging from; health and fitness, children and teenager groups, training and education, citizens advice, as well as faith and social groups. No two days are the same which means I’m constantly challenging myself. That’s one of the things I enjoy most about the role.

“Having a business background in risk and security has enabled me to help the charity navigate a highly regulated environment, from health and safety policies, contracts and procedures, as well as challenge strategic decisions from a commercial perspective. I can also call on my professional network to seek advice when I don’t have the answer and be a contact for those who want to volunteer on an ad-hoc basis. The trustee role opens a great opportunity to bring experience from a corporate environment to a different sector, to utilise expertise, gain experience from operating in a differing environment from that at work and most importantly make a real difference to the people in local communities.”

ELBA BoardMatch event

Emilie Devine, Strategy Manager, Bupa UK, and Trustee at Core Clapton, the Centre for Osteopathic Research and Excellence

“Before I became a trustee I didn’t realise how valuable the role is to a charity. I also thought the only possible ways to make a difference to society was donating, volunteering my time or working for a non-profit. None of these options were fully satisfactory or possible with my current commitments.

“Primarily our role is to hold the charity’s leadership to account, to ensure it is well-led with both its mission and services users’ interests at heart. I have been able to apply my professional skills in so many more ways than I originally thought; I was recruited mostly for my experience of building communities however have also helped with recruiting, pricing and strategic direction. My biggest lesson so far is the things that can add the most value, are not necessarily things that take a long time!

“Being a trustee has taught me how to make a difference by influencing rather than ‘doing’. It is also a great confidence boost to see how valuable skills can be outside of the workplace, and opened up new networking and social opportunities, where I’ve met many inspiring people. Thanks to ELBA’s BoardMatch event I was able to meet a plethora of charities and within a month, I had joined the Board of a charity, which made me feel valued for the skills I bring and whose mission I was passionate about.”