Excited and ready for the first Fellowship training session of the New Year; I eagerly arrived at the stunning Whitechapel Gallery to be greeted by a sea of Fellows. Not only were the London, Northern and South West fellows all together for the first time, but also taking part in the session were Cause4 associates and additional fundraising staff from Sadler’s Wells, Royal Northern College of Music and Discover.
It was great to be able to visualise the amazing network of young arts professionals we have all created since the launch of the Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy Programme; made even greater by the arrival of Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett (Chair of the Philanthropy Review) who was there to share his wealth of experience as a trustee, chairman and philanthropist.
“I have two simple rules: have fun, and never be bored. If you’re not having fun and you’re bored, you need to change jobs”. Sir Thomas, or Tom as he prefers to be known, definitely lives by this philosophy. Throughout the session he speaks openly, passionately and honestly about his personal motivations to give, the history behind the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, and what constitutes a terrible trustee and indeed, does so with a good dose of humour.
So what makes a good trustee? A very useful acronym is SAGES.
S: Strategy – a good trustee should be there to help the executive team think strategically, particularly in organisations that are under resourced or have small numbers of staff.
A: Ambassadors – a good trustee should always talk positively and knowledgably about the charity: from its message in sentence, to the financial and accounting make-up of the company.
G: Governance – a good trustee should always practice good governance; taking risks, setting the culture and ethos of the organisation, and ensuring the organisation is complying and adhering to up-to-date and relevant policies.
E: Experience – a balanced and effective Board will be diverse, and consist of trustees with varying degrees and areas of experience.
S: Support – a good trustee should provide support in every way they can; financial, time, contacts (current ones as well as new ones).
We also discussed tools for how to recruit new trustees and how to create a culture of fundraising as the core of the organisation by getting your Board and staff motivated to fundraise – a great example being that when Tom was Chief Executive at Marie Curie, he would personally fundraise his entire salary every year.
As Tom says, “The best learning comes from transparency and bad practice” so for the second half of the session we were presented with a fundraising case scenario for a fictional arts centre where half the room acted as the executive team and the other half acted as the Board of Trustees. We had an emergency board meeting about fundraising as we were short by £250,000 for our capital campaign. A lively discussion was had (and chaired by Tom) – interestingly as fundraisers we found that our answers were so focused in on fundraising that we didn’t consider the bigger strategies, such as scaling down the project.
A great inspiring afternoon, and hopefully as the young arts professionals become future Chairmen, Trustees and Philanthropists, we’ll continue to take Tom’s good practice with us and, of course, always make sure we’re having fun.