We founded Treebeard Trust in 2011 because we wanted to give something back.
We established a mission: To support disadvantaged people and help them to fulfil their potential. We sought out charities which fired our passion and fitted with this (deliberately broad) mission. And we managed the trust’s assets through a strictly financial lens, with the view that the larger the asset base, the more we could afford to give away.
Since then, we have stumbled across some wonderful charities, all of which, in different ways, have a profound impact on the lives of the people whom they exist to serve. We are proud to support them and humbled by what they achieve.
More recently however, we have come to realise that if we want to direct, measure and understand the change we are helping to create, we have to sharpen our approach. We’re a small trust, and our grant-making capacity will always be tiny relative to the scale of the challenges we face. We need to be more targeted in how, where and to whom we allocate our resources.
We’ve also come to appreciate the absurdity of relying solely on grant-making to further our mission. We have to invest the bulk of our assets to protect our endowment, but how we invest our money can have as much impact as how we give it away. We have already built a portfolio of impact investments and we expect this to grow substantially over time.
In October 2016 we took a significant step in our journey with the recruitment of a Director, Jessamy Gould. We have worked with Jessamy to question every aspect of what we do and channel our meandering and often incoherent thoughts into tangible courses of action. The result of this is a new strategy and a new model. Both will no doubt be subject to change as we test and learn from our approach, and we may do things very differently in ten years’ time. We don’t expect to ever reach a destination, but we feel we are now on the right path.
Barnaby Wiener, Founder and Trustee
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Cassandra Wiener, Founder and Trustee
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Jessamy Gould, Director
Jessamy has worked in the charity sector for ten years, fundraising from a range of sources including trusts, statutory and corporate. Most recently she headed up the corporate fundraising team at national education charity Teach First where she worked for five years before joining Treebeard as Director in October 2016. Jessamy has been involved in the trust since its inception, serving as a board member until early 2016. She runs Treebeard Trust from her home on the Suffolk coast where she lives with husband Matt and son Wilfred.