Published on 23rd August 2013
Following his election to the Guild’s management Council earlier this year, Clive Rainbird, former marketing communications manager at Bayer CropScience and now a freelance, was asked to become liaison officer to the Guild’s Charitable Trust.
Having neither the courage nor temerity to refuse this proposal, he accepted the position – and resolved to keep a lower profile in future!
However, his first Trustees board meeting opened Clive’s eyes to the remarkable work of the Trustees, an experience he is keen to share with fellow Members and Friends of the Guild here:
"Having attended the recent Trustees board meeting, I thought it might be of general interest to the Guild’s membership to know some of the background and undertakings of our Charitable Trust.
It was founded at the end of 1993 and started functioning at the beginning of 1994, so is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
The first £5000 was raised partly by industry donations but mainly from three marathons run by Guild stalwart, Peter Bullen, who as chairman of the Guild in its 50th year, came up with the idea of the Trust to mark the organisation’s golden jubilee. In all, Peter has raised over £12,000 for the Trust from running a total of six marathons, the last when he was 65.
Management of the trust is governed by a board of Trustees (lead by chairman Stephen Howe, pictured), each of whom give freely of their time, cover their own travel and office costs, and receive no fees or expenses. This selfless generosity ensures that all monies raised are available to the Charitable Trust.
Apart from the marathons, funds for the Charitable Trust have come from a variety of sources, including the Thames Walk undertaken by another former Guild chairman Arthur Anderson, a business seminar, a Burns Night supper and, increasingly, bequests by Guild members.
Charitable Trust Christmas Card sales also contribute but the two main fund-raising activities are the 200 Club and the annual Harvest lunch raffle and auction. Thus, over 20 years, these activities have contributed towards a modest capital base.
Over these 20 years, the Charitable Trust has been able to provide over £20,000 to help Guild members and their families in need through age, illness and loss of earnings, although the Trust still has only limited funds available to ease short-term financial problems.
Payments have ranged from a few hundred pounds to several thousand to help with a range of demands including utility bills, credit card debts, mortgage payments, extra physiotherapy sessions (especially helpful to stroke victims), top-up residential home fees to secure a more suitable room, nursing home fees for a few weeks' respite care and disability aids. Help may also be available towards essential re-training needs.
As I draft this copy I can tell you that the Trustees are currently dealing with two requests for help: they have agreed to pay up to £2000 for respite care for one retired member and have paid over £700 for a motorised reclining chair on behalf of another member, which will enable him to get out of bed.
In addition to these tangible responses of financial assistance, the Trustees try to keep in touch with elderly or sick members to provide friendship and advice – often all that is needed and which is certainly appreciated.
Clearly, it is the responsibility of the Trustees to make payments out of the Charitable Trust’s annual income and not to put themselves in a position of having to draw down on its asset base. The accounts for 2012 show an income of £4995 and expenditure of £4356 (which included £1900 of support grant).
This left a narrow margin of just £599 after the Trustees had effectively re-invested £2000 of interest from our investment funds designed specifically for charities.
The hard, and unwelcome, facts are that our Charitable Trust has been fortunate in recent years because the annual income has just about covered its annual outgoings – Mr Micawber would have approved of this financial management! However, the Trustees warn that this situation is unlikely to continue for much longer.
Why the pessimistic outlook?
The age profile of the Guild members is steadily rising; the number of retired members and the growing number of self-employed journalists (who do not have the backing of a large publishing house to help during a period of illness) is growing. Thus the number of members and their families who may find themselves in hardship is almost certainly growing and demand on the Trust in future years could be considerable.
And so, like a pension fund, the reserves must be built up to withstand whatever happens to the global economy (interest rates and financial markets in particular) and to cope with the misfortunes of the membership.
I made reference earlier to the 200 Club and this is where Members and Friends of the Guild can make a significant difference. One share costs £10 per annum (collected by bank standing order) and gives subscribers one chance to win in each of two prize draws every year. At each draw there is a £250 first prize, £100 second prize and two £50 prizes.
There is a maximum limit of 10 shares that each individual can hold and this, of course, improves chances of a win.
There are currently 74 members holding a total of 185 shares. Given that we currently have more than 500 Members and Friends of the Guild I think that there is considerable scope for improvement – don’t you agree?
Imagine how we could ease the Trustees’ financial concerns if we were to double, treble even, the number of 200 Club members. Remember, as with lottery giving and Premium Bonds, there are chances (very good odds, at that) of winning something in return for your generous support.
The next draw will take place at the Harvest Luncheon on Thursday, October 10 – and you could be in that draw. Details of how to become a member of the 200 Club can be found on the Guild’s websiteor by contacting me or Trust treasurer, Diane Montague.
I have been impressed by the work undertaken by the Charitable Trust, so much so that - first, I have become a member of the 200 Club; and second, I have volunteered to succeed another Guild stalwart, John Allan, and become the 200 Club membership secretary – so much for my resolution to keep a low profile!
I hope that in this short article you can see the valuable and unsung work that is being undertaken by the Charitable Trust. This is our trust; more than that, it is your trust.
Sadly, there is a distinct possibility that some of you reading this today will require the support of the Charitable Trust in years to come. Join me and the existing 74 members in helping to secure a more stable financial base for our Charitable Trust." Clive Rainbird