For Ian Gethin, the sale of the infrastructure fund he had co-founded caused him to reflect on how he spent his time. Having built his company from 4 employees to 140 following a career in government economics, banking and then private equity, Ian was keen to find a philanthropic interest to target some of his energies but his first observation came as a surprise:
“Rather than waiting until after I’d sold my business, I wish I had understood years ago how much I could achieve without the need for a major time commitment. Being involved with Football Beyond Borders has made me think differently. In the city, it is hard not to become functional and insular in your mindset because structure and hierarchy play such a strong role. As a youngish professional the opportunities I had to have an impact on strategy and development were limited but being a mentor or a trustee is a chance to step out of the boundaries of any job description.
“Football Beyond Borders are ambitious, pragmatic and resourceful. They have limited means but this forces the organisation to focus on real outcomes and individual impact which is something every business person should be doing. I have become very respectful of what can be done in the charity sector – this is nothing like the slow, bureaucratic behemoths portrayed in the media.
“It is so motivating what dynamic people can achieve, I feed off them and want to contribute. My role is unofficial and we work on a project by project basis but when you share a common cause with the team, it is easy to build trust. They pick up the phone when they think my skills will add value and we fit it around our mutual schedules.”
Ian is now one of The Fore’s Consultant Grant Assessors, providing strategic guidance to hundreds of charities and social enterprises through The Fore’s assessment process.