In the first of a series of Trustee Q&A blogs, we speak to Kathryn Graham, who has been a trustee of The Charity Service since 2016.
Can you tell us about your background and professional career?
As a solicitor specialising in trusts and estates, in addition to advising private individuals, I have advised charities and their trustees throughout my career and become familiar with the governance and legal issues they face.
What initially interested you in becoming a trustee?
Several of my clients had chosen to support charities during their lifetimes and in their wills, and I realised how vital these donations were to the charities supported. I had also advised various charities over the years and I could see that being a trustee was a fulfilling role. With my professional experience, I felt I could make a valuable contribution. I was also keen to get experience on ‘the other side of the fence’.
Why did you choose to join The Charity Service?
I was aware of The Charity Service through my work. I could see what a useful role it plays, both for the individuals who use its services to manage their charitable giving, and for the charities who benefit from the donations.
What do you enjoy most about being a trustee at The Charity Service?
As a member of the Grants Committee, which advises on grant making when there is no surviving donor or nominated advisor for a fund, I am directly involved in considering and agreeing grants. The emphasis is often on supporting small charities. A common thread is the dedication and hard work of those seeking to support disadvantaged people, and it is very satisfying to play a small role in helping them to achieve their goals.
What are The Charity Service’s key strengths?
The management team is small but dedicated. They provide a personal service to donors and are effective at building relationships with the charities we support. They have a deep knowledge of the charity sector and are proactive in their work, which makes the trustees’ job much easier.
Where would you like to see The Charity Service in five years’ time?
The current team has started to raise the profile of our work. We recognise, however, that our profile is still low and I hope that, as we continue to develop, this will improve. I would like to see us grow our income and activities so that we can make an even bigger impact.
What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a Trustee?
Try it. It is refreshing to do something different which contributes to improving people’s lives. My work as a trustee often puts things into perspective. From a selfish point of view, it is also a great way of expanding my knowledge and skills.