Ginny Williams-Ellis. Credit: Read Easy
The Bulldog Trust’s Engaging Experiences Philanthropy Network was created as a way to inspire and connect interested professionals with opportunities to apply their skills to charitable benefit. Since its inception in 2009 it has supported more than 800 charities with pro bono support.
One of those professionals is Ann Humphries, a former development director at John Lewis.
“When you get to my stage you want to give back. You want to pass on the skills you have gained over the years and make sure others can benefit from your experience,” said Ann.
Three years ago Ann heard about The Bulldog Trust through a friend when she was looking to support a charity. They paired her with Ginny Williams-Ellis, founder of a small charity called Read Easy, an organisation that recruits and trains volunteers to give one-to-one tuition to adults who struggle with reading.
Read Easy had already received a small amount of seed funding from The Bulldog Trust but they suggested they could pair Ginny with a mentor to help the organisation grow.
“It was very early days for me with Read Easy, I had no background running a charity. I felt I needed someone to mentor me through some of the challenges such as forming a board, creating a business plan and strategic thinking,” said Ginny.
“Mentoring is a bit of a posh name, I like to think of myself as a sounding board,” said Ann.
“When I started mentoring Ginny she had set up one Read Easy group and was looking to give the organisation some structure and process. Ginny is a wonderful person with a brilliant idea and fantastic passion. She wanted to transform it and grow it and give it some organisational structure.
“For example she hadn’t done a budget before, she was just receiving charitable status and she didn’t have a formal trustee board. I was there to help Ginny with these processes as well as be somebody she could offload onto and be completely honest with.”
Ann believes that professionals at various stages of their careers can gain a great deal from mentoring: “I have gained hugely by witnessing Ginny’s growth into this confident person who is running a brilliant charity on her own two feet.
“I think professionals can learn a lot from working with a charity. It gives you exposure to completely different people and provides perspective on a whole organisation. Ginny would ring up with a marketing or fundraising issue one minute and then a personnel issue the next. It gives you a bigger perspective than your day-to-day job.”
Ginny also feels that Ann’s support and help has been instrumental in the success of Read Easy: “The things that seemed complicated or challenging a few years ago are now just a part of my everyday experience.
“I now find myself passing on similar advice to other people, when they ask for it, with a remarkable sense of authority and confidence.”
Over the past six months Ann has taken a step back from Read Easy: “Ginny had just got a board of trustees in place and I felt it was the right time to take a step back. She has now got the confidence and structure to match her enthusiasm and drive.”
Ann is now looking for another opportunity to support a charity through the Bulldog Trust while Read Easy has gone from strength to strength and now has more than 20 reading groups across the country.
Learn more about Ginny and Read Easy here.