Focus: Finance and Governance - Trustee talk - Paul Cassar, International Animal Rescue

I don't think my role as a trustee means getting involved in the day-to-day running of the charity. That's the chief executive's job. I see my role as making sure the aims of the charity are being met, money is being used in an appropriate way and the charity is operating in a totally transparent way.

However, I also have no problem with getting involved in front-line projects at the invitation of the chief executive. Being a trustee is also about using and being prepared to use your specialist knowledge in whatever field you work in for the benefit of the charity. I have twice used my skills as a dentist to carry out root canal work and other dental treatment on dancing bears rescued by International Animal Rescue from the streets of India.

It is quite rare that a charity trustee might get involved with a project to this extent, but IAR is able to take advantage of its trustees' skills because the trustees are all 100 per cent behind it. It is only a small organisation, but IAR does a huge amount of work throughout the world.

It is able to do that because it works with a very motivated team.

Because trustees come from other professions, they can - and should - bring a whole network of different contacts and knowledge to the charity rather than just being a name on a piece of paper who turns up to quarterly meetings and then disappears.

Through my profession, I was able to find a veterinary nurse, and it was through working with her that my two trips to India to treat the bears were so successful.

The other trustees each have their own area of expertise. We have a trustee who is an accountant and another who is a solicitor. They contribute knowledge from their fields. Another trustee sits on the board of another charity that is bigger than our own and brings in specialist knowledge that way.

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