In this week's Member Viewpoint, Jo Ayley talks about the lack of recognition for occupational benevolent funds. I want to talk about the lack of recognition of the long-term needs of many of our own colleagues working in the voluntary sector.
We work to help meet the needs of the sector's beneficiaries. Few of us give much thought to the circumstances in which we work ourselves, yet, if we paused for a moment and began to think about it, there are a few truths that most of us would recognise.
Many of us might feel that we are adequately paid, but salaries in parts of the sector are notoriously low. The level of pension that most of us are likely to receive is not going to be generous, if we have one at all, not least because we have such a high turnover of jobs.
That being the case, I hope you won't think me overly pessimistic if I say that many of us may find that we need help at the end of our working life and that at times it will be help of a kind that the state may not adequately provide.
There are more than 100 occupational benevolent funds; most trades, industries and sectors in the UK have one, but we don't. Let me correct myself, we didn't until now.
The Charity Employees Benevolent Fund was registered as a charity last month. Its objective is to help employees, former employees and their families who, through illness, unemployment or bereavement, find themselves facing hardship. It offers help in all its various forms - advice, support, and care - all the aspects Jo refers to in her article. Help will often be provided in the form of advice or signposting, rather than an outright or ongoing grant.
This fledgling fund is fortunate to have the input of many people with long experience in the field of occupational benevolent funds. Liz de Boer of the Confectioners Benevolent Fund chairs it, and has provided the impetus needed to get the project off the ground in a staggeringly short time - less than 12 months. Without her dedication, the momentum needed to get to the point of registration might not have been sustained.
Meetings to outline the development strategy will begin in the new year.
As any of you with experience of setting up a new charity will know, this is a critical point in its existence.
The first priority has to be to build a development fund for the organisation.
The second is to develop the strategy for ongoing funding. Building the infrastructure necessary to support the grant-making process will take time, and until it (and funds) are in place, grant making cannot begin.
CEBFwill need to develop a flexible structure, and keep costs to the minimum. Many benevolent funds help to ensure that beneficiaries are claiming their full entitlement to benefit before making any grant - in the case of the Confectioners' Benevolent Fund this amounted to £500,000 over the past year.
There are no shortcuts to the human resources needed, so the CEBF will need your support in developing its funding strategy, expertise relevant to its objects, volunteer support, particularly as assessors and above all, financial commitment.
It will inevitably take time to get the show on the road. Planning always takes longer than any of us want, but it will pay a dividend. We will be approaching many of you in the new year - umbrella organisations, membership bodies, government as well as individuals - for seed-corn funding. But far beyond that, we will be coming to all of you for long-term, committed support.
I don't think it's likely that you will be seeing the Institute's head of policy wearing a tabard emblazoned "CEBF" at Vauxhall Tube, but stranger things have happened. If you do, just think what a relief it will be to know that he can quote the relevant Code of Fundraising Practice verbatim - just what you need for a convincing pitch!
To find out more, offer support or make a financial commitment, contact Liz de Boer at CEBF@tybert.com or Andrew Watt, firstname.lastname@example.org at the Institute of Fundraising. We're looking forward to hearing from you.
Andrew Watt, head of policy and standards, deputy CEO, Trustee Charity Employees Benevolent Fund.