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Trustees Week 2021

Interested in becoming a Trustee?

By : Mark Boulding - Partnership for Children   Nov 1, 2021
Category :General 

To mark Trustees’ Week and, as he comes to the end of his term of office, Mark Boulding, our out-going Vice Chair, reflects on the past six years as a Trustee of Partnership for Children.

What prompted you to apply to be a Trustee of Partnership for Children in 2015?
At the time I was transitioning back into the private sector, having spent five amazing years working for charities, and I wanted keep a meaningful connection with the voluntary sector. I chose to apply to Partnership for Children because I was impressed that a charity with so few staff had already reached over a million children in 30 countries.

How have you used your skills and experience during your time on the Board?
What I’ve found working in the private and voluntary sectors is that many key skills are transferable between the two – and that each has much to learn from the other. I was able to apply the skills, knowledge and experience of strategic planning which I used as director of strategy in a global advertising agency, in supporting the Board and management of Partnership for Children to develop a truly robust, specific and measurable strategic plan. And working in the charity world made me a more empathetic and resilient manager in a business environment.

A highlight?
That’s a tough question, because it’s hard to pick out just one. Maybe it would be the Board Away Day when I was able to use my experience of facilitating strategy workshops, to help us collectively arrive at a future vision which none of us would have predicted at the start. Or seeing videos of teenagers who had been through the Zippy’s Friends programme ten years previously, speaking fondly of it and able to articulate how it had helped them grow into the happy and resilient young people they had become.

A challenge?
For a charity whose core product is classroom-delivered programmes, the Covid-19 pandemic was a huge challenge, with schools closed around the world (and voluntary funding in turmoil). I was so proud of the Partnership for Children team, who worked their socks off to turn a problem into an opportunity by moving the programmes online really fast.

What next for you?
I’m well and truly bitten by the trustee bug so I have recently become a Trustee of a rare disease charity called EOS Network who do fantastic work. I’m also involved in a couple of schemes for mentoring leaders of small charities. And I’m in discussion with the Partnership for Children team about continuing my involvement with them – it would be great to be able still to use what I’ve learned over the last six years.

What advice would you give to someone considering a trusteeship?
In three words – go for it! Don’t be deterred if you lack voluntary sector experience or deep knowledge of the charity’s field – the best trustee boards have a breadth of backgrounds and experience. As long as you can commit the minimum time the charity states, and can attend Board meetings (it’s not an ‘honorary/absentee passenger’ role) it doesn’t need to be very onerous, although you’ll probably find that the more you contribute, the more rewarding it will be. It’s a way of making a real difference at a senior level to a great cause like Partnership for Children, without having to retire or give up the ‘day job’!