Volunteering has been part of my career

Natalie Levin
Long time volunteer Natalie is a senior manager in the charity sector.

With more than ten years experience in management herself, and plenty of other volunteering experience, Natalie started to consider taking on a trustee role and found Reach through LinkedIn.

I graduated with a good degree and my first temporary appointment was with the Rural Payments Agency. It was around this time that I first took on a voluntary role with Tall Ships Youth Trust (TSYT) which I joined some years ago and continue to date. I was asked to support a fundraising day sail, where I was introduced to the fundraising sector which influenced my later career moves. 

A few years ago I also began volunteering with the Trinity Sailing Foundation. Working at sea with up to 16 adults or young people, I organise, motivate and coach trainees to ensure they each fulfil their potential and overcome their challenges. Now with more than ten years experience in management I also started to consider taking on trustee roles.

I first heard about Reach Volunteering through LinkedIn, I started following Reach and that’s where I heard about the Introduction to Trusteeship workshop. I applied for a place and found the session really useful – it helped me understand more about the role of a trustee and to clarify what skills and insight I could bring to an organisation.

Stewarding the organisation

A trusteeship is a highly responsible role and it takes strong organisational skills and self-motivation to make a success of. So far, I’ve really enjoyed my experiences as a trustee, although the two charities (Whirlwind Charitable Trust and Care Home Volunteers) are very different. One is a grant-making charitable trust, so the bulk of the role is reviewing grant applications, assessing their suitability, and ensuring that the monies have been used to achieve their intended purpose. The other charity is much smaller and seeks to train and match volunteers with the service’s beneficiaries; the role of the trustee here is much more hands-on, stewarding service delivery and sources of funding as the organisation grows.

Bringing new insight in my day job

Becoming a volunteer has helped my career. It played a part in me securing my first role in the charity sector, and more recently, having the understanding of breadth of the charity sector and the challenges and opportunities that different organisations face, helping me to bring insight and learning to my day job. Working for a charity, I too have a trustee board; having now experienced sitting on the ‘other side of the desk’, as it were, gives me a greater understanding of what our own trustees are looking for us to achieve and to better anticipate their questions and queries.

As a result of reviewing my career and deciding what I wanted to achieve in the future, it became clear that I wanted to work mainly with young people. My paid work is now as Philanthropy Manager with the Youth Adventure Trust – an organisation that for the last 25 years has inspired young lives through outdoor adventure. 

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