Trustees - RAISE
Background to RAISE: why are we here?
If you have a real interest in helping the diverse range of organisations and groups that comprises the voluntary and community sector in the South East not only survive but thrive, and if you would like to guide and shape an organisation at a “make or break” point in its development, please take a look at the specification below.
RAISE is a charity and company limited by guarantee and was established in 1999 to act as a voice for the voluntary and community sector (VCS) in the South East of England, influencing policy and decision makers in the (then) new regional structures. For years RAISE was funded by statutory and lottery grants to act in this role as conduit, and to build the capability of the sector through training, networking, events and research.
With political and decision making structures changing rapidly, driven by the coalition government’s agenda on devolved power, localism and welfare reform, and all underpinned by a challenging economic climate that is affecting all VCS organisations, RAISE is entering an exciting phase of its development. We have a smaller staff team and a challenging new remit. We are now looking for several new Board members (trustees of the charity) to lead us in our new role. We need people who are strategic thinkers, who have a belief in the value of the voluntary and community sector and want to see it flourish, and who can bring their experience to guide, challenge and represent RAISE.
RAISE’s new role is that of a catalyst for VCS organisations in the South East of England. We want to make better use of the full range of assets of the VCS, sharing expertise and building collaborations (both within and outside the sector) and stimulating new thinking and practice so that the VCS as a whole can achieve more. RAISE aims to ensure the voluntary and community sector is factored in to the new decision making structures, that the value and potential of the sector is recognised so that the needs of communities in the South East are seen and heard. In common with so many voluntary sector organisations, RAISE now needs to generate income for its services and projects, rather than being reliant on grant funding.
RAISE’s role as a charity is not the most obvious of causes, nor is it easy to “sell” to the public or to donors. We are not saving vulnerable people from disaster or finding a cure for cancer. What we are trying to do is to ensure that the full range of voluntary and community organisations in the South East can achieve the most possible, with limited resources, for the people they serve. It is a particularly challenging ask in this part of the country; perceptions abound that we are all wealthy and healthy in the South East, yet enormous deprivation exists, often in close proximity to relative wealth, and aggregation of data can easily mask these differentials.
What we do and how it is changing
Broadly speaking, RAISE has three strands of work, examples of which are given below:
- Services to members
RAISE has a free membership which currently numbers around 1700 organisations across the South East and further afield; members receive regular information about issues affecting the VCS and have the opportunity to feed in to the development of policy and practice through RAISE.
- Project work to test ideas and share learning
We are currently managing an important project, “A Healthier Perspective”, run in partnership with three local Councils for Voluntary Service and funded by NHS South of England and the Big Lottery Fund. This work seeks to enhance the role of VCS organisations in health and social care commissioning, but there are lessons to be learnt for many other aspects of public service delivery and the role of VCS providers in this.
- Contracts to deliver specific services within our charitable mission
We are currently part funded by the Big Lottery Fund with some additional income from the Department of Health to deliver specific work to engage the VCS in the rapidly changing health and social care structures.
RAISE’s role in future will be to continue to ensure voluntary and community organisations in the South East understand and can influence issues affecting them and the communities they serve. So our information, signposting and policy work will continue to be important in helping organisations respond to issues and spot opportunities and these will form the core of our “offer” to members. We will continue to undertake policy work where it has a significant impact on our members and where RAISE’s action or voice will make a real difference (we don’t want to duplicate). We will continue to bring together individuals and organisations within and outside the voluntary sector to share experiences, ideas, skills and knowledge. We want to build partnerships and collaborations to help VCS organisations grow, and be more effective (whether through securing public service contracts, or through achieving efficiencies by working together or sharing skills).
In the future we need to manage the relationship with our members differently. Not only will we look to secure more of a two way relationship (with a “partner”), but we will be looking for future partners to pay for RAISE’s services. We are likely to be most effective if we know our partners better so that probably means having many fewer than the 1700 members RAISE currently has. We want to develop “communities of interest”, i.e. groups of partner organisations that can work together in the short or longer term to achieve a specific goal, or share information on a range of common issues, or develop a particular set of skills.
RAISE has recently reduced its core staff team from 7 to 4 people. In addition we employ a Project Manager for A Healthier Perspective and an additional part time contractor to help improve our online and social media presence.
Our income and expenditure for the financial year 2010-11 was around £461,000 and £480,000 respectively. In 2011/12 these figures reduced significantly to around £274,000 and £298,000. We have limited secured income as yet for 2012/13 but RAISE is fortunate to have very healthy reserves.
Since its establishment RAISE has elected Board members through an electoral college system applied across its membership, so that each part of the South East region had representation on the Board. This system is no longer appropriate for RAISE’s mission. We need a Board that is more diverse in its experience of organisations and sectors, we need a much greater focus on business / enterprise as RAISE is developing its ability to sell services. In the future we may set up a separate trading arm for some of RAISE’s activities. We still want our members to participate in the Board, but we decided against setting aside a number of seats on the Board for RAISE members; instead we will consider the composition and skills set as a whole to ensure adequate representation from our members.
Following a recent review of governance structures the Board now meets 4 meetings a year, in addition to the AGM. Hitherto meetings have been held at RAISE’s offices in Guildford but we are planning to move our Board meetings to a central London venue and to hold them between around 11am and 3pm.
RAISE’s Board has also been very large in the past. Over the last year, several Board members have stood down from the Board due to the commitments of their “day jobs” (most are or were Chief Executives of voluntary sector organisations in the South East); our Board currently numbers five, and, apart from the Chair, has undertaken to stand down once a new Board is up and running. For now they are in effect the Appointments Committee for the recruitment of new Board members. New members to the Board will need to play their part in building the Board, so there is ample opportunity to influence the processes and culture of the new team.
Over the last few months we have scoped out the desired range of skills and experience for a new RAISE Board – see below.
What’s in it for you?
This role is a voluntary one, with reasonable expenses paid, so you will not want to join the RAISE Board for the remuneration. However, this is a golden opportunity to have a major impact on the voluntary sector in the South East, to join and help build a new team which will lead an organisation that is effectively being “re-born”, to make decisions on the best use of RAISE’s healthy financial reserves. There is ample opportunity to get more directly involved in RAISE’s work should you wish to do so.
The end game is to benefit communities in the South East and if this goal excites you then the RAISE Board offers an opportunity to make a difference. There is no guarantee of RAISE’s long term future. But the Board members who join us now will play a major part in determining whether or not we succeed and so this is a role where you will certainly see your impact.
What to do next
In the first instance RAISE’s Chief Executive, Kathy Atkinson, will be happy to discuss the role of Board member and answer any questions you may have about RAISE on a confidential, no-obligations basis. Kathy works part time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays and is on 01483 608342 or KAtkinson@raise-networks.org.uk
We are asking all candidates interested in joining RAISE’s Board to submit a letter of interest and a CV by Monday 6th August 2012.
Advice and support
- Funding and finance
- Coping with cuts
- Addressing needs
- Managing change
- Planning for the future
- Involving people
- Public Service Delivery
- Governance and leadership
- Compact Advocacy programme
- Campaigning and influencing policy
- Collaborative working
- ICT (information and communication technology)
- Climate change
- People, HR and employment