Beth is the Chair of The Women’s Fund for Scotland, which supports charities and voluntary organisations working with disadvantaged women and girls. Since 2002, the fund has given away £1M in grants to over 550 community groups.
These groups provide life changing skills; opportunities to learn and ways to build the confidence of those overcoming domestic violence, poverty, or ill health. Supporting women’s growth, self-sufficiency and social economic equality benefits all of us. Throughout Scotland communities have been transformed by the imagination, activities and commitment of women championed by the Women’s Fund for Scotland.
Small grants can make a big difference.
What attracted you to apply for your current board position?
When I came to Scotland and set up my business here I wanted to give a percentage of profits to charity. I heard one of the founders of the Women’s Fund speak at an RBS event and decided that thinking globally and acting locally was the order of the day and chose to donate to the fund. From there I was asked to join the advisory group.
The fund is owned by the Scottish Community Foundation which has been working with people and organisations to help them give to good causes since 1996. On behalf of donors, the fund distributes around £3.5M a year making it one of the largest funders of the voluntary sector in Scotland. A trustee of the foundation sits on the board of the Women’s Fund and when the last occupant left I was asked to take their place.
Why do you think there are so few women on these boards of these public bodies?
The simple answer is because no-one asks them and not enough people know about the opportunities. In small organisations it is not all about governance, it is just as much about the capacity to help the board, for example in providing practical assistance with accounts or marketing. Many people are put off by the thought of the legal responsibilities that come with trustee or board positions and often overlook the possibility of helping at a more practical level. It may be that by offering support at this level people can gain experience that will make them more willing and able to take a board position later. In this way there can be a progression of volunteering and support.
A good place to find these positions is through the Good Moves website
What do you get out of board membership?
I think in the USA there is a far greater understanding about what can be gained from being involved with a public body. A lot of people over here think that being involved will simply mean a lot of work and overlook the benefits both in terms of personal development and for your business. We need to do more to change this perception.
In summary we need to make more people aware of the opportunities, ask more women to get involved and make the personal benefits of getting involved much, much clearer.
You can find out more about the Women’s Fund on the website.