Lessons in Leadership: Cattanach Trust
In this series, we are speaking to members about their experience of foundation leadership.
The fourth article in this series comes from Rachel Campbell, Manager at the Cattanach Trust.
This series first appeared in December 2017’s Trust & Foundation News. Read the magazine here.
My previous job was as Business Manager to a political group in a local authority. This group oversaw the operational running of the council, and my job was to help support them – particularly through their early days in administration – in matters such as governance and decision making. While different to my role now, similarities lie in that I work alongside a board who come together with no previous working relationships. I think that experience has lent itself to this role in a way I hadn’t foreseen.
I have spent more time than I anticipated working alongside the board, as well as looking ‘outward’ to grantees. Working within the dynamics of a board of trustees is a significant part of my role, which I really enjoy. Our trustees have a range of skills and professional backgrounds, so I build working relationships with each to support different elements of our work. They all come to work with us for their own personal objectives and purpose, and I enjoy the variety they bring, and helping them to work together as a group and act on the decisions they make. Because they give their time to our trust voluntarily I try to make sure they feel engaged and find their role interesting and fulfilling.
Our board has a quarterly grants meeting, and I learned fairly quickly that my flow of work isn’t even throughout the quarter. I think a key to managing the role effectively is to accommodate this and to plan round the meeting cycles we work to.
My undergraduate degree was in psychology, and I often approach my work from a relational perspective. As a funder, we work hard to ensure we are respected, trusted and valued. I try to carry these values in our dealings with applicants for funding and grant-holders and to ensure our processes are supportive guides rather than hard and fast rules.
I have really valued being networked to other grant-making and funding organisations in this role, particularly those based in Scotland. It is a very cooperative environment and while we all work to our own boards and strategy, there may be common issues we are dealing with and it’s very helpful to have a dialogue across this community.
The self-management and proactivity we have as grant-makers is a great privilege and I think we all appreciate the innovation and pro-activity independent funding can afford us.
Generally the work we fund supports families affected by deprivation who have babies and young children. Last year in Scotland it was the Year of the Dad, and I asked our board to support this particular initiative in recognition of dads and the role they have, often unnoticed, when their children are young.
We now have 13 grants under our Dads’ Fund, and it’s satisfying to know some of this work was started as a result of us offering funding in this area.
At Cattanach we are prepared to fund new areas and we appreciate some would see this as taking risks. We like to think it’s about allowing charities the freedom to try new practice. We want people to try things out, we want to be funding at the forefront of emerging good practice. We’re really trying to say to people, what are your aspirations and what do you want to try? Even if it doesn’t succeed, we will have learned.
Other articles in this series: