The Asian Venture Philanthropy Network asked Fiona to speak to countries in South East Asia about her Pilotlight model.
All the countries she spoke to were interested, but Singapore had a particular question: how do you take the Pilotlight model and then create something specifically for Singapore.
The Pilotlight model was created to offer charities access to dream teams of business leaders who can give the kind of high quality, challenging mentoring that is not even available to top corporates.
These teams of senior business leaders (Pilotlighters) have little time to spare, so they are asked to give two to three hours of their time a month, around their diaries. This offers an effective way for them offer their time and skills to small charities that want to build their capacity to reach more people more effectively.
The meetings are arranged and moderated by Pilotlight so both sides only need to point their brains at the problem. And it works: charities now working with Pilotlight reach 50% more people and their turnover grows by 25%.
The challenge in Singapore was not only starting from zero in terms of funding and resources; it also needed to be, ‘for Singapore by Singapore’.
Fiona started by talking with Brian Gillies, a leading Pilotlighter living in Singapore. Brian understood the model and was passionate about it; he also had a sense of what would and wouldn’t work in Singapore.
Brian donated the start-up costs for TalentTrust, enabling it to happen.
To make sure they created something that was right for Singapore, Fiona and Brian listened to the views of grant makers, members of the voluntary sector and business people.
Understanding the importance of good branding, they came up with the name TalentTrust and then saw through the registration of the charity with top local pro bono help.
Finally, Fiona and Brian then raised the first year’s running costs and they started to recruit a Board and management.
Now TalentTrust, led by Chief Executive, Tess Mackean, has worked with over sixteen charities and business dream teams. It has over sixty business members, all donating to make the charity sustainable long term.
The charity has also received funding and support from the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre and Tote Board.
Talent Trust’s leadership and operations have stayed in Singapore, so answering the challenge that the model had to be developed by Singapore for Singapore.
The process is about helping charities to be sustainable rather than giving them something that is a one-off and I think that’s fantastic.
S.N. – Skills-based Volunteer
I would recommend that any small charity that needs some direction to get involved. The support and mentoring that you receive from the business people involved cannot be bought.
D.R. – Charity Beneficiary of Skills-based Volunteering
Skills-based volunteering takes you out of your comfort zone and puts you in a place where you don’t have the answers but you can help others by the quality of questions you ask.
D.F. – Skills-based Volunteer