November 07, 2022


Today’s interview is with Ellie Berry. Some of you reading this will know that Ellie is a manager in my charities team at Albert Goodman, and her story is particularly interesting as she became a trustee at just 23 years of age.

Hi Ellie. For those who don’t know, could you fill us in on what charity you’re involved with and how you first became a trustee.

I’m a trustee and treasurer of Stand Against Violence, and I’ve been involved with them for around 9 years.

The charity became an honorary charity at a firm a worked for, where I sat in on a very emotional talk from Adam Fouracre, who founded the charity in 2005, following the murder of his 17 year old brother. This brought back memories as I’d been at the party the night of the murder. I started working closely with Adam, assisting with the Independent Examination and payroll via my firm. Adam then approached me following the resignation of their then treasurer, to which I jumped at the chance. Having just qualified, it felt like the perfect fit and helping a very worthy charity with my particular skills.

Stand Against Violence are reasonably well known amongst people in Taunton and have grown a lot over recent years - what do you enjoy about being a Trustee and what do you get from it?

I love being able to give my time and skills to a small charity which would otherwise struggle to afford such professional services, and that these funds can go directly to the cause instead.

As an accountant, it’s very easy to do ‘the numbers’, but by being a trustee, you are involved in all aspects of the charity and decision making, which broadens my knowledge in the management side and this feeds through to me being able to better understand my clients in my work life. By specialising in charities at work, I am also able to use this knowledge and apply experience from other charities into my own.

Being involved in a small charity, we are not just trustees, sometimes we are fundraisers, I’ve baked a few cakes and shaken a few collections in my time too!

And lastly, the people! I’ve made some great friends and contacts along the way, the trustees give our time for free and we are therefore appreciative of any spare minute anyone can give, we understand we all have our own lives to live, but we all pull together for such a worthy cause.

You were a trustee at a really young age - how do you think more younger people can be encouraged to be a trustee?

This is really interesting, as we have a really young board in comparison to some.

I think it’s around trying to break the stigma of thinking that you have to give all of your spare time to be a trustee and therefore believing you can only really afford to be a trustee when you are retired. Most boards meet around 4-6 times a year, for a few hours at a time, and between those times, you may spend a few hours a month on other bits of work (depending on the needs of the charity). If you are an accountant (or training to be), you have a very sought-after skill set, which is vital to every charity (believe me, you may think everyone can understand a spreadsheet, but they really can’t!), and nothing feels more rewarding that being able to use your skills towards a very worthy cause.

What tips would you give anyone who is thinking about becoming a trustee?

Look around and find a charity which you are really interested in, it won’t seem like ‘work’ then. Meet the other trustees and learn all about the charity, where they are now and where they want to be, that way you will get a feel for if you will enjoy working with the charity. Find out exactly what the trustee role entails and how much time this is likely to take, you will then know if you have the available time to give, you will get real enjoyment out of the role if you love the work the charity does, and you don’t overcommit yourself.

Ellie, thank you so much. It’s fascinating to have your view on this, and hopefully your answers can provide some support to younger people who might want to get involved!


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