CRASH Newsletter: November 2023
Meet a Trustee: Fiona Duncombe shares her experience being a Trustee and Treasurer of CRASH Charity
Behind every charity is a board of Trustees who are responsible for ensuring the proper and effective running of the organisation. CRASH is grateful to have a team of nine dedicated Trustees who work alongside their busy day jobs to support the charity and ensure strong governance.
Fiona Duncombe, Partnership and Company Secretary at Arcadis in the UK is also Trustee and Treasurer of CRASH Charity. A chartered accountant with an honour’s degree in Accounting and Finance, Fiona began her career working in an accountancy firm before moving to EC Harris (now part of Arcadis) as the Regional Financial Controller in Asia. After six years in Asia, Fiona returned to the UK and settled into her current role as Partnership and Company Secretary, with a host of responsibilities including company governance, involvement in mergers and acquisitions, company restructures and a pension scheme Trustee.
For seven years, Fiona has been on the CRASH Board of Trustees, helping to govern the charity through challenges such as the worldwide pandemic and expanding CRASH’s remit to include hospices in 2015. In this Q&A, Fiona shares her experience of being a CRASH Trustee, covering the biggest misconception as well as advice for others considering a Trustee position.
What first attracted you to CRASH Charity?
Arcadis has supported CRASH, the construction industry’s charity, as Patrons for over 15 years and senior leaders in the business have been involved at board level. The uniqueness of what CRASH provides, not only as a grant giver but in bringing the professional expertise and construction products of its patrons and supporters to helping homelessness and hospice organisations with their construction projects and allowing them to care for vulnerable people, is hugely attractive. I was honoured to be approached back in 2015 to become a Trustee and Treasurer of CRASH.
What is involved in your role as a Trustee and the Treasurer of CRASH?
The CRASH Board of Trustees meets quarterly and is involved in setting and reviewing the strategy, monitoring the performance of each aspect of the charity, making decisions on key issues and understanding and mitigating any risks. As a grant giving charity, we also meet 3-4 times a year to review grant applications and make decisions on grant awards. As part of our duties as Trustees we ensure the charity is carrying out its purpose in line with its governing documents, is complying with the applicable laws, is managing its resources responsibly and is well run and effective. As Treasurer I have additional responsibilities around the monitoring of the financial administration and performance of the charity, meeting with auditors, and reporting to the Board of Trustees in this.
Has your role as a CRASH Trustee helped to shape your role at Arcadis?
The purpose of Arcadis is Improving Quality of Life. Being a Trustee of CRASH is closely aligned to this purpose and allows me to contribute my time and expertise to improving quality of life by having an involvement in the delivery of the vital work that CRASH does in helping homelessness charities and hospices across communities in the UK.
How does it feel to offer your expertise and experience in a Trustee role?
Hugely fulfilling and a fantastic way to give back to a cause and the communities I care about.
What has been your proudest moment in your time as Trustee?
My proudest moment was seeing how the charity was able to continue to support organisations throughout the COVID pandemic, adapting the way in which it operated and coming up with innovative ways to fundraise when traditional methods of fundraising were not possible.
Have you visited a CRASH project and how did it make you feel?
CRASH provided a grant and professional expertise to Crawley Open House, a local charity to me that I have supported and visited with my daughter. Crawley Open House has been supporting homeless and vulnerable people in West Sussex since 1994 and I am very proud that CRASH has been able to support them with the refurbishment of a light industrial unit into a new resource centre giving homeless people employability and life skills to get back into training, education and work. You can read more about the Crawley Open House resource centre project here.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about being a Trustee of a charity?
That being a Trustee of a charity needs years of experience. In my experience this is not the case. Be prepared to bring your professional skills and experience as well as your life skills to the charity and be willing to learn and actively contribute at meetings.
What advice would you give to others considering becoming a Trustee of a charity?
Be passionate about the purpose and values of the charity. Research the structure of the charity, its resources, financial position and governance arrangements. Understand what the time commitment is, how you can bring your skills and experience to the charity and what the responsibilities of a trustee are. If you like what you see, then go for it! It is a rewarding way to give back to your community, learn new skills and expand your network.
“Strong governance underpins the success and transparency of every charity and CRASH is fortunate to have a group of talented and committed Trustees. I am grateful to Fiona Duncombe and all our Trustees for sharing their time and talents to ensure CRASH is an exemplary charity that our donors can have complete confidence in supporting.”
Chief Executive at CRASH