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Trustee Q&A with Matthew Smith

What’s your current role at The Favela Foundation?

I’m currently Treasurer and Secretary, which means I look after a lot of the day-to-day activities, such as meeting minutes and logging our decisions, as well as working on our accounts and issuing grants. I also work with our partners in Brazil when it comes to re-applying for funding or renewing existing agreements.

How did you get involved in The Favela Foundation?

I first went to Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro to work for an educational project as part of my year abroad during University. I lived there for five months (alongside Rebecca!) and when I came back to the UK, I wanted to continue supporting favela communities, so joined up with the other trustees to form The Favela Foundation in 2017.

What’s your favourite part of your role?

I really enjoy working with the projects in Brazil. When they ask for a second year of funding for a project, you can see real development and the previous year’s plans coming to fruition. It’s great to see the ideas our partner’s have for reaching more people in their community.

I also press the button on sending out grants once we’ve agreed to support projects, which is always a nice feeling!

What do you find challenging?

At first, I found fundraising difficult and it took a while to become comfortable with asking friends and family to support our work. It’s something I think a lot of people struggle with, but I’ve always found people to be universally supportive, particularly when you start to see real results from their support.

Another thing would be balancing being a Trustee with working full-time, which can be tricky. As a group, we always find a way around it and just have to be flexible!

Can anyone set up a charity?

Absolutely. Out of the four of us, only Rebecca had any experience in the charity sector when we first started out – Flavia has since joined to make that two!

Do you have any tips for new trustees?

Make sure you’re passionate about your charity’s goals and are in it for the long-term. It doesn’t have to perfect straight away, so don’t be afraid to try different roles so you find the most effective balance for your team.

It’s all about learning as you go, making sure you’re doing the right thing by your donors and beneficiaries, and following the guides you’ll set out in your charity’s constitution. There are tonnes of support materials and networks out there – resources on the Charity Commission website and through groups like Young Trustees are a great help to anyone starting out.

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