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Why I salute small charity trustees

So I have to put pen to paper and tell you about my day!

Today in London I attended quite an important meeting with several voluntary organisations. I happened to get chatting to a female trustee of a small charity, about lobbying in the voluntary sector, of all things.

Within two minutes of our conversation commencing, we were approached by another woman, who came towards us brandishing a book. This woman looked earnestly at my companion and smiled. So I then pulled back, assuming that the woman knew the trustee.

"It's you!" announced the smiling woman. "Would you mind signing my book? I'm so pleased to meet you in person!"

My charity companion smiled and graciously obliged by signing the book, as if it was an everyday, regular occurrence and the most natural thing in the world. I have to say I was astonished. Imagine! To my surprise I had been chatting to a nationally-regarded expert and I hadn't known it.

It turns out that this trustee, who I only vaguely knew, is a renowned published academic author! I hadn't known it. Nor had our conversation given me any clues that she was held in such regard or was so accomplished. She was just so humble and unassuming, that she could have given us all a lesson in humility.

But what fascinated me most was that here was this amazing woman, so accomplished and knowledgeable, and she was giving up her valuable time to represent a small charity. Not a high profile charity that graces the pages of Third Sector Magazine. Just a small voluntary organisation, without a high profile or massive reserves in the bank.

No doubt the commercial value of her time is worth hundreds, if not thousands of pounds per day as a consultant. But that doesn't appear to matter to her. She was quite happy, volunteering her time to represent a small charity in which she believes, totally for free.

That is the reality of small charities. Amazing people, learned people, creative people - all wanting to help their causes and support the charities they believe in. Not for fame or reward. Just to advance the cause. And very often, without praise or thanks.

Well done trustees of small charities, I say .... I salute you!

Madeleine Cassidy, Founder of Charities in Focus