The International HIV/Aids Alliance was formed in 1993 to help set up HIV response services in the developing world. However, in the past six years it has undergone rapid change. Its income has risen from nearly £7m in 2001 to nearly £32m in 2006, and it now operates in 30 countries.
Since the introduction of Aids treatments, the charity has also branched out into broader sexual health issues and the human rights issues associated with being HIV- positive. A review was launched into whether the charity's governance arrangements and constitution needed to be amended to keep pace with the changes.
A sub-group of trustees created to carry out the review decided that the board of eight should be expanded to 12, and then to 14. "We didn't go up to the maximum immediately because we didn't want everyone on the board to be new," says Alvaro Bermejo, executive director of the charity.
Trustee vacancies were advertised in The Economist magazine, which has a worldwide circulation. "We had an incredible response from 140 countries," says Bermejo. "At least 60 were of a good enough quality to select. The alliance has a good level of awareness but isn't really well known. There is clearly huge untapped potential."
The charity also worked with lawyers and the Charity Commission to draw up new objects. "The commission is famous for taking a long time, but it was very responsive with us and it took only four months," says Bermejo. "Maybe it is because our lawyers were well connected."
There are now 12 trustees, with an even split between genders and global hemispheres. People living with HIV sit on the board. Two-day meetings happen every six months. Two sub-groups - one on policy and advocacy, the other on finance and aid - meet for an extra day. One meeting in four is held in one of the countries in which the charity works. All this costs about £45,000. "For an organisation with an income of £32m, that's a good balance," says Bermejo.