LinkedIn is a superb tool in many contexts, not least when it reminds you how long you’ve worked somewhere and the odd, kind person uses it to reconnect and say congratulations. And so it is seven years ago today I walked into TimeBank as its new Chief Executive. It was a brand new feeling for me – having made the step up from Director of Fundraising – to inherit a national volunteering charity and whilst I don’t want to evoke an X factor-esque dialogue - what a journey it has been!!!
In the heady days of 2008 with a Labour Government in power, Government funding guaranteed, a healthy set of reserves and an, albeit rather eclectic, portfolio of volunteering programmes TimeBank was a pretty amazing place to take over. Of course like every incoming CEO finds, there was work to be done. The charity had evolved over the eight years it had been in existence and needed to review its strategic direction – consider where our work could be focussed and how we could and should diversify our fundraising.
Crisis for us came in 2010 when our Government funding was cut and so ensued a challenging few years, having to let staff go, contemplating merger and forensically monitoring our finances. It was a period that shaped me as a Chief Executive and taught me much. It enabled me to reinvent our charity, to make us work smarter and be more focussed, whilst keeping staff motivated and continuing to deliver our projects on time, to target and on budget.
Without the support of the Board which we’d taken time to strengthen early on, none of it would have happened and TimeBank might not still be here. It is fitting then that tonight - my ‘anniversary’ - we welcome four brand new trustees to our Board after an open recruitment process underlining to us once again how honoured we are to have such incredible people want to volunteer for us in every context throughout our charity.
It has been seven years but it has involved so much change and challenge and I run such a very different charity to the one I inherited that every day brings fresh inspiration and motivation - and I look forward to embracing whatever challenges face us next.