IF I am 100% honest, when the position of Chair of YMCA’s national Fundraising and Communications Forum last became open at the end of 2014, I had no intention of applying.
I had been a member of the Fundraising and Communications Forum steering group for nine months at that point and was enjoying being able to contribute to the content of meeting agendas and be called upon to present on, amongst other things, social media and Sleep Easy. I didn’t really think I had much to contribute beyond that
The YMCA Fundraising and Communications Forum allows members of those teams from across the YMCA Federation to meet in person, build relations, share best practice and engage others in joint team work.
They have been running within the federation for a number of years and significantly increases communications between YMCA England and member YMCAs and improved best practice sharing across the board.
It wasn’t until I was approached by YMCA England and previous chair Grace Harrison of YMCA Derbyshire that I began to give the position some serious consideration.
A chat with the team back at YMCA Humber, and endorsement from Malcolm Smith our CEO, gave me even more confidence to take up the position and it is fair to say that I have not looked back since!
The chair position has meant so much more than bringing together the various elements of the forum meetings. It has enabled me to develop stronger relationships with colleagues at YMCA England and other YMCAs around the country, which in turn has provided an invaluable and in-depth look at what peers are doing well, any best practice we should be aware of and trends that are developing across the sector.
I would estimate that I spend an average of eight hours a month on the position of chair and it is time thoroughly well spent.
It has also had a positive impact on YMCA Humber. Our young people have benefited from national exposure to get their voices heard on matters that directly affect them. Our YMCA has also received significant national media coverage during the last 12 months.
On a personal level, I am approaching nine years as part of YMCA’s federation but the last 12 months, the connections I have built through the role and the quality of presentations and information shared at the forum has seen me learn more than at any other point during my YMCA career.
From the work of YCare on an international level through to the Etherington Report on fundraising practices and a recent presentation on crisis communication, the information shared at the Fundraising and Communications Forum is so valuable to my day-to-day work and is something I can disseminate to our services, departments and teams.
A typical day at a YMCA Fundraising and Communications Forum meeting or Steering Group meeting starts at 5am, as I travel from North East Lincolnshire to London or the Midlands for a meeting. It ends between 7.30pm and 8pm that night but it is 12-13 hours that is more than well spent.
If you are looking to take your involvement in YMCA fundraising and communications to the next level then please consider applying for the role of Chair of the Fundraising and Communications Steering Group – you will not regret it and the benefits to you and your YMCA will become readily apparent.