What is Qhubeka and how did you first become involved with them?
Qhubeka is a social mobility charity based in South Africa. We distribute bespoke Qhubeka bicycles to schoolchildren, healthcare and community policing workers across South and southern Africa. By using a bicycle to replace walking as their primary mode of transport, our recipients are then able to create significantly more time in their day to improve: grades and school attendance; access to essential facilities and infrastructure; the ability to get to more patients; job prospects and social mobility.
What work do you do with the organisation now, and how have the skills and experience gained benefitted you and your employers?
Firstly, I am a director and trustee of the charity. This role and the responsibility that comes with this directly improves my personal awareness of corporate governance and stewardship which makes me a better leader in my business generally. Secondly, I am very involved in the marketing, communications and corporate donor acquisition process of the charity. This work is directly comparable to my work in marketing and business development and the techniques and knowhow I have in my day job can be applied to my charity work. And very much vice versa also!
You’re very passionate about professional pro bono. What advice would you give anyone thinking about undertaking a pro bono project?
I think some of the experiences I have had either directly or indirectly through my charity work have made me a better person, a better global citizen, and a better professional. Applying your skills, whether it be Marketing, Finance, IT, HR, Facilities, Training etc to a non-profit is really not too different to your day job. You can give as much or as little of your time as you need also, however the main advice I would give is select an organisation with which you have a personal affinity, or feel a passion, as this drive really makes the work you do rewarding in so many ways. Modern law firms are full of some of the best operators in the types of work mentioned above and these organisations simply cannot afford to hire professionals of this calibre. Getting access to a few hours a week, or month, for strategic and vital business support is truly a major benefit to a non-profit and you can really make a huge difference.
What is the best thing about your role with Qhubeka?
It is both very fulfilling and highly effective to apply my corporate skills and experience to a non-profit organisation. Whenever I see a social media post from the charity about a distribution of bicycles to schoolchildren which has just taken place, I get a real buzz knowing that I have played a small role in making this happen. I have also been a cycling fan, both as a racer and as a hobby and working with Qhubeka allows me to play a role in the cycling industry. With Qhubeka being the charity of the Tour de France means I get to go to the race every year ‘backstage’ which is a lovely perk of the role. I encourage all my professional colleagues in law to embrace this and get involved!
Can you tell me a little about the organisation for whom you are a Trustee?
Tree of Hope is a Kent based national children’s charity that supports families to fundraise towards the cost of a child’s specialist medical care, safe in the knowledge they are working with a registered charity to maximise their fundraising opportunities and get support and help with fundraising plans.
There are lots of families in the UK who need to raise money to support their child’s treatments, therapies and medical needs that are not met by the NHS. Unfortunately, the demand for the charities services grow year on year.
Today the charity supports over 800 families with their fundraising campaigns every year, providing a dedicated family support service, empowering families to help get their children the access the healthcare they need for a better quality of life.
2022 is a special year for the charity as it marks the charities 30th birthday.
How has the organisation benefitted from your BD and Marketing skills?
I chair the Fundraising and Marketing Committee who meet quarterly to discuss the annual F&M plans, discuss tactics, brand position, competitors and recently the charities diversity & inclusion agenda.
We also review the performance of the website and social media channels, the newsletter that goes out to all our families and supporters as well as planning much needed fundraising events throughout the year.
I like to think I challenge the plans and help finesse the campaigns based on my experience, ensuring the charity can be the best it can be.
How have you benefitted from your experience as a Trustee, and has it changed your approach to your ‘day job’ at all?
I have spent most of my career in professional services, so becoming a Trustee of a charity really opened my eyes to a whole new world. I have learnt about a whole range of things from medical conditions, treatments, pressures on the NHS and financial investments that I would never have known otherwise.
I have also really enjoyed meeting the amazing Tree of Hope team, who do a fantastic job of running the charity on a daily basis, and meeting and learning from the other trustees who come from a range of backgrounds and industries.
I definitely use the knowledge I have gained from being a Trustee in my day job as technology and tactics, plus Google algorithms change at such a fast pace nowadays that it is hard to keep up without being able to use all the knowledge and experience you have acquired.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of becoming a Trustee?
Do it! It is a great experience to be involved with a charity that you genuinely think makes a difference, who would possibly not be able to achieve all they want to without the extra help the Board of Trustees gives them. The time commitment is probably less than you think it might be, but I promise you, you will get more from the experience than you lose in taking the time to read the board papers.
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We operate in collaboration with Reach Volunteering, a leading skills-based volunteering charity which helps third sector organisations find skilled personnel for voluntary assignments and trustee roles. Unlike other volunteering services, our focus is very-much on helping skilled professionals find opportunities which relate directly to their professional skillsets and experience.
Fifth Day aims to connect people with opportunities. We advertise opportunities which you are then free to sign-up to through the Reach Volunteering platform. This process only takes a few minutes and no CV is required – a LinkedIn profile will do.
New opportunities come up regularly. You can sign-up to receive opportunities which are directly relevant to your skillset by enail here.
Light-touch vetting of organisations is undertaken by our partners at Reach Volunteering. Organisations which seek to access support will be asked to supply evidence of their status, for instance, a charity number, social enterprise directory entry or articles of association – full criteria can be found here. However, we would very-much encourage volunteers to satisfy themselves of the status and objectives of any organisations they choose to apply to work with.
We welcome applications from third sector organisations to offer roles through the site. This process is administered through our partners at Reach Volunteering, and you can find out how to promote roles here.
We offer a corporate membership scheme for legal and professional services firms who want to promote pro bono opportunities among their business operations (ie. Finance, IT, Business Development and Marketing, HR, Facilities, Risk, Knowledge, etc) staff. No fees are involved, and you can find out more about membership here.