As Trustees, we often hear of associations in decline and charities bereft of funding, however, there are those who are showing signs of growth. In one such instance we have observed that the success can be attributed largely to the vision and leadership of one person.
As founder and initiator of the non-profit for which they represent they have founded a viable volunteer driven organisation that clearly serves the intended purpose. These individuals are not always highly visible, preferring to limit their on-going role, once the entity is firmly established, to quietly working in the background in support of a readily identifiable governance team. One such organisation is the New Zealand Trustees Association (NZTA) and its founder Errol Anderson.
Errol Anderson is the founder of the NZTA and can take credit for having launched three stable incorporated membership bodies on both sides of the Tasman. Errol holds a formal qualification in Para-Legal Community Law and initially chose a career in corporate trusteeship before he founded the New Zealand Trustees Association (NZTA). His practical experience in the sector made him aware that while there was active participation from mainly law and accountancy qualified practitioners, there was no recognition of ‘trusteeship’ as a professional specialisation or an educational pathway for lay-trustee to professional status.
Errol recognised there was a need for peer appraisal for trustees by trustees. Leveraging off his growing number of contacts, he formed the NZTA in 1995 and has been instrumental in its further growth in membership and profile ever since.
He recognised that his newly formed trust and membership association needed to meet a public benefit. This supported his identification of a need for those in the role of Trustee to be self-regulated and trained, using information sharing as a major contributor. The Trust currently operates a help-desk facility to handle specific enquiries and deal with disputes – this is well supported by the membership (practitioners in the discipline, serving trustees and estate settlers).
In addition to a monthly members’ newsletter, NZTA maintains a user-friendly website that gives a good overview of its structure and facilities. As such it contributes much to the visibility and functionality of the organisation. With Errol’s leadership, the New Zealand Trustees Association has grown from small beginnings in Milford on Auckland’s North Shore into the strong entity it is today.
Building on the success achieved in New Zealand, Errol recently founded its Australian counterpart the Australian Trustees Association (AUTA). Consequently, he also saw the need for representation and self-regulation in the unit titled property sector. This resulted in his latest achievement, the setting up of the Queensland Body Corporate Association.
When asked of the similarities between trusts and bodies corporate, Errol said “The similarities are certainly there in a broader sense. When we look at structures of board/owner/assets to trustees/beneficiaries/assets with comparative limits of liability for strata board members & trustees, there are similar powers and duties of care. There are also similar beneficial interests to be considered, with assets held for the benefit of a definable group, and importantly an over-riding desire to function harmoniously within a legal framework.”
Errol belongs to a select group of association executives and trustees, who are making their mark in an industry that can no longer depend on traditional forms of governance and management to be acceptable and play a meaningful role. In order to compete successfully with commercial service providers, membership-based organisations need to adopt business-like practices to survive and prosper while forever remembering that the Members are paramount. We think NZTA and AUTA are good examples of achieving the transition with leadership as a driving force.