An insider's guide to pro bono board membership

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We caught up with David Jack of Ascend HR, a voluntary board member with Street Soccer Scotland, about the mutual benefits of pro bono board membership.

How did you first come across Street Soccer Scotland?

I listened to the founder David Duke speak to an audience in the Social Enterprise Exchange event at the SECC in Glasgow earlier this year. David spoke about Street Soccer and how he had started the organisation. Around 10 years ago he was actually homeless himself, and he was able to turn his life around by using football to help him regain his confidence. David had also been heavily involved with the Homeless World Cup, an event I’d heard of and coincidentally had watched in 2008 in Melbourne, Australia. So there was an immediate connection there from me.

After David had spoken, I visited the Street Soccer exhibition stand at which they had some footballs and 5-a-side goals, which got my interest! I then found myself kicking a football around with one of the Street Soccer Scotland staff members, a former professional footballer, who'd also been homeless himself. Again he had a great story and he introduced me to David Duke, and that's how it started. In the space of an hour I went from knowing nothing about Street Soccer to would-be board member!

What do you believe Street Soccer Scotland gains from your involvement?

I'm very much at the beginning of my involvement there – I started with the organisation at the end of May 2013. But I think what I bring is the benefit of my years of experience in HR: my focus is around developing people and helping Street Soccer Scotland think about what skill sets they're going to need as a growing organisation.

What benefits does pro bono board membership bring to you?

There are many benefits – for example it has definitely built my network and is a good enhancement to my CV. However it really is more than that, because of the feel-good factor. You know that you're doing something that really matters. Sport -- football in particular because it’s so accessible -- has a huge power to engage with homeless and disadvantaged people, who are usually suffering from issues with confidence and self belief. Sport can help them get back some of that confidence, which is the first step towards going on with their lives, going back to employment and becoming part of society again.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of taking up a pro bono board directorship?

Look for something that is aligned to your values and your interests. That way you'll be able to relate to the organisation on more than one level and bring the same enthusiasm that other staff members have. I talk a lot in my HR work about intrinsic motivation, which is something that people who choose to work for a charity often have a lot of. Intrinsic motivation means a genuine desire to do the work -- these people aren't just there for the pay cheque. By choosing a charity you feel strongly about, you'll bring that intrinsic motivation to your pro bono board membership, and that can make all the difference.

The Pros of Pro Bono on 2 October is a networking event to connect charitable organisations with finance/business professionals from the Central Belt. The Edinburgh event is organised by iMultiply Resourcing and sponsored by Johnston Carmichael. For more information call Fiona Riding on 0131 603 7747.