‘Step on Board’ is a board-level volunteering programme, run by Trustees Unlimited and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, which is being embraced by a number of leading businesses including Google, Credit Suisse, PA Consulting, Barclays and Mishcon de Reya.
The programme provides professionals with an introduction to trusteeship, followed by an in-depth one–to-one diagnostic interview with a consultant before they are matched to suitable trustee roles.
One charity that has benefitted by recruiting a trustee who participated in the programme is The Microloan Foundation.
The Microloan Foundation helps women in sub-Saharan Africa break the cycle of poverty by providing loans (average £72), training and support to help them set up their own business.
The charity operates in rural Malawi and Zambia and has ambitious expansion plans – moving into Zimbabwe this year, and Swaziland and Lesotho in 2017 and 2018. The long-term aim is to help more than 100,000 women and their families in Africa.
Peter Ryan, CEO of the Microloan Foundation said: “The Microloan Foundation works in an area of the world where there is a high degree of poverty and in order to expand and achieve our mission, we needed to increase our fundraising efforts.”
Ryan approached Trustees Unlimited to find a candidate with strong media skills to help promote the charity’s message and raise its profile.
Trustees Unlimited sourced five candidates for interview and the charity selected media lawyer Dina Shiloh (pictured above) who had participated in the Step on Board programme through her former law firm, Mishcon de Reya.
Now a partner at Gallant Maxwell, Shiloh is a media expert, having also previously worked as a print and radio journalist, and a television producer for CNN, NBC and the BBC.
Ryan said: “Dina stood out because of her background in media and law. Whilst we weren’t specifically looking for legal experience, the fact Dina can help with legal issues is very useful.”
Shiloh felt the Microloan Foundation was the right fit for her skills, experience and interests.
She said, “I was looking for a charity that supported women. I admire the charity’s work - enabling women in Africa to be entrepreneurial, set up their own businesses and improve their financial security. I also had some knowledge about microloans and I liked the concept.”
Shiioh has already made a big impact on the charity. Within the first few months she visited Malawi to see the charity’s work in action.
She says “Whilst there, I was able to use my skills as a journalist to interview women, make videos and take photographs. This was very useful for the charity as I was able to record my visit and bring back materials that will help promote our work.”
Shiloh has also gotten involved with fundraising and in making sure that people attend charity fundraising events by using her network and contacts, as well as advising the charity on legal issues, including data protection.
She adds, “I would recommend ‘Step on Board’ to any professional considering becoming a trustee, especially younger people as it provides a solid introduction and understanding of the requirements of the role a trustee will play. I don’t know of any other way for people in their early 30s to gain board experience so early in their careers. It’s also very good for personal development.”
Ryan concludes, “A year into the role and Dina has helped with fundraising events and bringing in new supporters and, if legal questions arise she is able to offer advice. Dina has an important role to play in our future helping to develop our fundraising, (introducing us to her networks) so we can help many more women in Africa, and we look forward to her continued contribution.”
Ian Joseph, Chief Executive at Trustees Unlimited and Managing Director of Russam GMS, says, “Charities increasingly need professional people with a variety of skills and experiences on their boards to help them improve governance and achieve their long-term goals.
“Through the Step on Board programme, we are successfully connecting professional people with charities that need their skills. We are delighted to have assisted the Microloan Foundation in finding the right candidate to help with its future growth.”