Focus: Finance and Governance - Trustee talk

Janis Olohan, Sexual Dysfunction Association

I have been a trustee for two years, my main role being to support the director with marketing, communications and fundraising. I have worked in healthcare and medical communications for about 16 years, and I worked on the launch of Viagra in the UK. It was through this that I became involved with the Sexual Dysfunction Association.

I meet the other trustees at trustee meetings - we have about three a year. Because a number of the trustees are medically qualified, I also come into contact with them at medical meetings. The trustee meetings are more of a formality - people are generally allocated tasks that are completed before the next meeting.

At the moment, the work is divided on an ad hoc basis. If there's an action to be taken, it's the person with the most relevant experience - and often the most time - who is nominated.

The charity is considering the formation of sub-committees, which would formalise an action system rather than the process depending on one person having the time. This would involve creating specific work groups for different work streams - fundraising, marketing strategy or policy, for example. I think this would make life easier for both the director and the trustees, because everyone could be clear about their roles and responsibilities. The director would then have two or three people to consult on each specific issue.

What works particularly well at the Sexual Dysfunction Association, given that the majority of the trustees are medics or qualified healthcare professionals, is the significant networking that often takes place at medical meetings.

Many of the trustees also have links with other charities and associations.

In addition to the trustees, we also have a number of advisers who are happy to be called upon to respond to things such as media enquiries.

The network is wider than the trustees.

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