As part of our interview series with leading business professionals, we spoke to Sam Williams, Regional Fundraising Manager for Cancer Research UK (CRUK), to discuss the challenges of recruiting board members for charities, what makes a good board member and what is next for Cancer Research UK.
Following Moon Consulting’s appointment as recruitment partner for Cancer Research in Bristol, we also discuss the Bristol Board recruitment campaign undertaken by Moon Consulting’s Sandy Hinks, to identify a group of exceptional individuals to form a new business advisory board.
Tell us about Cancer Research UK and your role as regional fundraising manager.
Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading charity dedicated to saving lives through research. Our vision is to bring forward the day when all are cancers are cured.
Cancer Research UK is a national charity and has dedicated regional teams working in fundraising, retail and events. Our regional staff are all home-based, which helps the charity run at a very low cost – in fact 80p out of every £1 is used to help beat cancer.
As Regional Fundraising Manager, I provide leadership and strategic direction to a team of seven fundraisers based across the South West. The team helps support volunteers and local companies to reach their fund-raising goals.
What role do board members play in supporting the activities of Cancer Research UK?
Board members are crucial to the development of Cancer Research UK. The main role of our board members is to raise funds for crucial science projects by generating corporate sponsorship interest through raising the CRUK profile within their extensive networks and local community and by arranging high level events.
What do you look for, in terms of skill sets and network, when you are recruiting board members?
Every board member has a specific skill set that complements that of the other board members. For example, we have board members who specialize in digital marketing, specialists in Law, specialists in Finance; giving expert insight into specific sectors, which is key in enabling strategic decision making.
In terms of soft skills, communication plays a key role as our board members will use their networks to discover new opportunities for the charity. Board members need to be well-connected and in a position to open up those networks in order to help generate new sponsorship and identify key supporters.
Passion is another key element, as our board members need to be fully committed to the cause, not just in the terms of dedicating time, but also enthusiasm - alignment with the charity values is perhaps one of the most important factors. We find most of our board members have a personal reason for wanting to be on the board, which helps drive their motivation.
What challenges do you face when recruiting for the board?
We recruited our Bristol board through Moon Consulting Executive Appointments, and felt that our Executive Recruitment Consultant, Sandy Hinks, removed many challenges and obstacles for us in the process. We were very impressed with the high-caliber candidate shortlist that Sandy drew up.
From speaking with Sandy about the search, I know that one of the biggest recruitment challenges was time commitment, because the high-level candidates we were targeting were very busy people in their professional and personal lives. However, Sandy did a great job in drumming up interest and many of the prospective candidates that were approached did show a very high level of enthusiasm to support, even if they were not able to join the board.
In fact, Sandy did such a wonderful job in creating enthusiasm around the role, she found the she herself was drawn to the cause and was interested in becoming a board member. We are pleased to say that she has also joined the Bristol board.
Do you have any recommendations for someone who wants to be a Board Member for a charity like Cancer Research UK?
For anyone looking to become a board member for a charity, it is very important that your values are closely aligned to that of the charity, you must be able to honour the commitment and as an ambassador, be passionate about your role.
Network is another very important factor, you need to be well-connected in your local area and you need to be able to talk about your network and what positive contributions it can bring.
What’s next for Cancer Research UK in the Bristol area?
We are officially launching the Bristol board in February 2019. We are looking forward to raising our profile in the area and generating interest around fundraising opportunities for our latest Bristol research projects.
Our scientific researchers at CRUK are continuously working on new ground-breaking projects, so we are always looking out for new supporters and corporate partnerships to help fund our life saving research.
Having worked with Moon Consulting to source board members for Cancer Research UK, how would you describe the service you received?
We were absolutely delighted with the work carried out by Sandy and the team. Sandy really took the time to understand the assignment and was able to deliver a shortlist of exceptional candidates for our consideration. Sandy’s commitment to understanding Cancer Research UK’s goals really showed from the response she was getting during the initial reach out stage.
We held the interviews at the Moon Consulting offices and we were really pleased with how welcome the team made us feel. Sandy’s input was critical when it came to coaching before the interview, and during the interviews themselves, as she was able to help us make strategic decisions by identifying the strengths of each candidate.
At the end of the recruitment campaign, we held a networking evening to introduce the new board to our scientists, as we felt it was really important that the board understand how the scientist work. We were delighted that Sandy, Vanessa and Simon from Moon Consulting were able to join us!
Moon Consulting work with a range of organisations in the not-for-profit sector, supporting them with the appointment of chairman, individual board members or the creation of new regional boards.
We understand the challenges associated with securing board members who need to make a significant time commitment when there is no associated remuneration.
We take the time to get to know the organisations we work with, and to understand what they are looking for in a board member, both in terms of hard and soft skills. Our experience of positioning board-level roles to prospective candidates means that we can match the right person with the right opportunity.