Blog: Fellowship of ACOSVO

At the ACOSVO AGM in October 2018, we launched a "fellows programme" for long standing members who have made a significant contribution to ACOSVO.

It has almost been a year since we introduced the ACOSVO fellows, but how did it all start? We thought it would be a good time to reflect on the fellows first neeting and plans for the year ahead...


So, after that auspicious start(!!?) we got down to business – and decided to blog about our first meeting and plans for the group and have decided to try it as an interview:


So Ian (McLaughlan – previous Chair), what is the idea behind this group – and why set up a fellows programme?

Ian: “I have been a member of ACOSVO since its inception in 2000 (and in an informal network for chief officers a good bit before then) when I had much more hair and which was much less grey than today! During this long association, my leadership skills have grown considerably and have benefitted greatly from the time, talents and patience of many of my peers and colleagues in the voluntary sector. I would therefore like to explore, as a fellow of ACOSVO, how I can best help in some small way the next generation of emerging leaders in their leadership journey into what can be a most rewarding – if at times challenging - career in our wonderful sector.”


Fellows, what do you think you might be exploring as part of this role?

Anne: “Well our first meeting got off to an interesting start – thinking back to my first involvement in ACOSVO required a great feat of memory – it wasn’t even known as ACOSVO in those days – the year approximately 1993 – no funding, no staff, no charity registration and very few members!! My how it’s changed over the years – going from strength to strength and it’s been wonderful to be a part of it in all its various stages. So to be invited to become a Fellow was a lovely surprise. It was also great to be back round the table with other people that ACOSVO has brought together over the years with whom I have shared leadership trials, tribulations and successes – great support – as well as meeting a few new people too. I’m not sure about what specifically I can offer in this new role but I’m really keen to hear what others would find useful. I’ve been with ACOSVO through every stage of being a Chief Officer and what follows and it has been there for me in the shape of great people. I’d like to think it’s maybe my turn to be there for others if I can be helpful. I know I’ll continue to benefit from my involvement.”


And finally, Ian (another Ian, Findlay!), as Vice-Convener, what do you think acosvo will gain by having the fellows programme?

Ian: "ACOSVO, it’s Trustees, staff and members, have so much to gain from the Fellows.  There is no substitute for experience. It would be interesting to work out the cumulative years of experience in the five Fellows, but I reckon it’ll be well over a century’s worth!  All the Fellows are very well known, universally respected and hugely experienced Third Sector leaders.  This wealth of insights is a real treasure chest for existing and aspiring leaders in the sector.  I know all the Fellows well.  Bottom line is they are lovely, approachable people who are happy and willing to share their leadership experiences with the ACOSVO family and its friends.  The challenge going forward, is to agree how best to make use of this amazing opportunity for peer support and learning."     


And from me as Chief Exec….

Pat: "It’s great to know that I have the support and experience of the fellows to draw on.  ACOSVO will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2020, so how better to help plan it than with those who were around from the early days and have helped shape it along the way. Its also been great to hear the range of topics we covered in our first get together; how do we support new leaders coming into the sector, how do we show the Chief Exec role in a more positive light (often seen as needing total commitment, a huge responsibility, loads of extra hours ..and not much of a life outside work – where most of us feel it’s a huge privilege and love our jobs).

I’m really looking forward to working with ACOSVO fellows – and cant help but finish with one more Gandalf quote for those of us “juggling on a unicycle”:


A wizard (third sector leaders)is never late. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.