Marissa has recently joined our board as the Chair, although she is not a new face to Indigo! She supported our CEO Holly in the early days, utilising her valuable experience and time to help bring Indigo to life.
We sat down with her and asked why she joined our board and what the role of being an Indigo trustee entails.
As a trustee for Indigo Volunteers, what exactly is your role?
I’m Chair of the Board, but only since January, so it’s a very new role for me. Before that I was an Advisor to the Board, and before that I was a volunteer for Indigo, so I know the organisation pretty well. I work closely with the operational team - in particular Holly, the CEO and with Tas, Head of Operations. Because we are a small organisation the operational team and the board work closely together on strategy, problem-solving, financial planning and anything that has to do with running the charity to meet our goals. I’m there to support the team on a regular basis, whether through my weekly meetings with Holly or through team discussions on how we develop as an organisation, proofreading copy, or carrying out tasks that the team may not have time for. The board is an operational board rather than an Advisory so it’s important to be hands on, also as Chair.
What inspired you to become a trustee and why did you choose Indigo over other charities?
I was a trustee previously for a number of years for another small charity and I really enjoyed that work. I loved being part of a team that really cared about the work we did, and I learned a great deal about NGOs and working internationally with local NGOs where we provided support. My experience there demonstrated to me that even small organisations can have an important impact if you have a strong team where trustees and staff and volunteers work closely together towards a common goal. I chose Indigo because I wanted to continue to do that kind of work in an organisation whose mission I believe in. Indigo provide a service that no one else in the volunteering sector does – responsibly connecting people (volunteers) and grassroots organisations to provide services desperately needed along the European Refugee Route. And we do this with a team of highly dedicated, inspirational, committed people.
What is it like to be a trustee of a small charity?
It is exhilarating! You are an integral part of something because your contact with the team is regular and not just at board meetings. What you do matters. It wouldn't work though if we didn't have the team we have - our culture is one of openness, caring, mutual respect and tolerance so really no team member is ever left to fend for themselves!
What qualities do you think make a great trustee?
I think firstly a genuine interest, even passion, in the work the charity does, and a curious mind about the area of work that keeps you learning more from different perspectives. Also it is really important to have an open mind and to be able to listen. And while I think it is important to be passionate about the work the charity does, it is equally important to take a step back and objectively make decisions based on our purpose and vision. Sometimes, this is harder to do when it is a small team because we develop personal relationships and it is more difficult to separate the needs of the staff and the needs of the charity, but having the great team we have makes this challenge less daunting!
What are the main challenges you encounter in your role?
The role of Chair is very new to me so everything at the moment is a welcome challenge. I am retired so I have lots of time (oh, and there is a lockdown) to meet the challenges at the moment.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering becoming a trustee?
Really research the charity you are considering - do you share their values? Do you share their vision? Do you believe in what they do and how they are doing it? Don't be afraid to contact the charity with your questions or concerns. I think that this is the most important thing you can do before applying for a trusteeship - because even if you think you don't have enough time because of work and family commitments, if you are passionate about the charity's work and like how they work, you will always find the time.
Have a look here at what positions we are looking to fill and if you would like more information, you can join our ‘Drop-in’ Session with Marissa and Holly on Tuesday, Feb 16th at 18:00 (GMT). Just email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.