Trustee Week may be a time to say thank you to trustees and honour their role, but it’s also a time for trustees to say thank you to the charities that become a satisfying and fruitful part of their lives. In my case, over many years, that includes DSC. Why?
Firstly, because, like most charities, DSC incubates hope. Through their encounters with DSC, thousands of charities and individuals are left prouder of what they are doing and more hopeful about coping and excelling – and that includes its own trustees. Every person involved in DSC believes passionately in the importance of the charity sector; always at the forefront of all our minds are countless people out there going out of their way to try to make a better world, for love. That preoccupation frames the hopeful ethos of DSC. And it isn’t diluted by being beholden financially to anybody else, since we earn nearly all our money.
Secondly, the charity is brilliantly managed by Debra and her whole team. This was clearer than ever during COVID, when they dealt with the challenges and traumas in an exemplary way: how to adapt to home working and learn positive lessons, how to manage staff anxieties and dilemmas, how to adapt financial strategies, how to preserve a sense of solidarity and shared feeling despite all the disruption, how to keep focused on the cause. I was on a working group of the Board that met with staff more frequently to monitor these challenges and responses closely and the more I saw and worked with the team, the more I enjoyed it.
Thirdly, we do also understand very well at DSC the distinct (albeit interdependent) roles of staff and Trustees. We don’t start fiddling as Trustees with management’s day to day decisions, and in return we enjoy the entirely open, never-defensive flow of relevant information from the staff to Trustees so that we get all that we need for our more strategic overview, with abundant opportunities to engage in brainstorming and debate on the big issues that are reviewed regularly. I have never experienced at DSC any reluctance to share freely information about things that are not going so well as well as the successes.
Fourthly, although we are all true believers in our mission to support and strengthen our sector, we have no factions. What a blessing!
Finally, the Board feels lively. Not so long ago, those with longer experience were joined by a new cohort of four, from wonderfully diverse backgrounds. So the loyalty of many long-serving staff and Trustees doesn’t equate to feeling set in our ways. Perhaps all the more so because we earn our money, we have to remain agile and open to change.
So thank you, DSC, for being such a hopeful and energising body, for me as a trustee as well as for so many others.