Corra Chair Trevor Civval reflects on the role of trustees in times of challenge and change – Trustees Week

13-17 November 2017

Reflecting on our recent Change Convention I was struck by the positive response shown by participants to what surely no one will deny are extremely challenging times. What we can see is that the demand for the work done by the third sector is increasing, whilst at the same time resources continue to be constrained. It is surely incumbent on us all to find a way of responding that faces up to the current environment, not only with the commitment that has always been a feature of the sector, but also with the sector’s powerful ability to drive imaginative solutions and new ideas.

It is against this backdrop that I am so delighted to have become Chair of Corra Foundation, having served as a Trustee since 2013. We are excited to build on the strategy we introduced in 2014 which focused on: being the best grant maker we can be; reaching communities that we historically have not; and supporting other funders. The next iteration of that strategy Change for Good, supported by our new brand, will build on those aims as well as further strengthening our commitment to collaboration and to acting where gaps exist.  We will continue to be bold and to learn from initiatives such as People in Place, which demonstrates how funders can work differently alongside communities across Scotland, particularly those who face the most complex challenges and whose voices are seldom heard.

What does it mean to be a trustee against the backdrop of such change and challenge?  In the case of Corra Foundation it means working with the team to support the development of the new strategy and its implementation, in order to ensure our resources and those of our partners are deployed in a way that maximises their impact.  It means accepting that not every new initiative will work in the way that was intended and so the coming years will see a process of learning of what works and what does not. Thus as trustees we will need to be in a position to help the organisation adapt to circumstances as they evolve and to have the courage to change direction if required.

If all that sounds like a tall ask, then that’s because it is. However, it is a journey that we will navigate by measuring all that we do against our core mission to make a difference to people and communities, by encouraging positive change, opportunities, fairness and growth of aspirations, which improve quality of life. It is a privilege for myself and fellow trustees to have the opportunity to contribute to such an important mission.