The Trustees are pleased to report that The Whirlwind Charitable Trust has finished the financial year in robust shape, with assets now approaching £7 million. We therefore remain firmly on track with our objectives to ensure that donations, at the very least, keep up with inflation over the longer term, and ideally rise in real terms.
This policy recognises there will always be short term fluctuations in annual donations in order to provide a buffer against uncertain market conditions. As predicted in last year’s review, we have taken a more cautious approach during 2017-18 bearing in mind the uncertainties of Brexit and other market factors. The Trustees felt it prudent to contain all donations and operational costs within the income received from Whirlwind’s investment funds rather than reduce reserves at this time. Regrettably, at the time of writing this Review, the final nature of Brexit is no clearer than it was two years ago so, for the time being, we feel obliged to remain cautious as we enter our 2018-19 financial year.
We have continued to support a wide range of charities broadly encompassing life-enhancing experiences for young and disadvantaged people, with a particular emphasis on sailing and outdoor pursuits. We have been pleased to strengthen relationships with several long term charity partners as well as to welcome some enterprising new ones. Over the past year we introduced a new PROJECTS OVERVIEW section to our website which provides ‘Project Snapshots’ with photos and commentary on recent programmes. We hope this will provide useful guidance to potential donations applicants as well as an overview for those interested in a broader overview of Whirlwind’s work.
One project that deserves particular mention this year is the Noel Lister Bursary scheme at UKSA, jointly funded by Whirlwind and the Lister Charitable Trust.
This innovative scheme provides maritime career training courses to young people with the right attitude and commitment to succeed, but who lack the finances to fully fund their own courses.
The innovative factor is that, in return for the funding, the beneficiaries agree to make stage repayments to reimburse their bursaries once they are in full time employment. In this way, the funds are constantly recycled to support further deserving applicants in the years ahead. Now in the third year of the scheme we are delighted to report that, on average, 97.4% of agreed repayments have been met, demonstrating considerable scope for expansion of this concept.
Visitors to our website will also have seen our support to the campaign against Plastics in the marine environment, with a new section dedicated to this issue. Also in the marine conservation world, we have provided further support to the very successful Secchi Disk project.
Other projects launched during the past year include a formal Investment Management review; the transfer of our website to a new platform and a review of content; some streamlining of the Applications process and – in common with every other charity – aligning ourselves with the new GDPR regulations, which significantly impacted us in terms of time and cost.
We have begun to take a long, hard look at our operational and strategic management. In the interests of minimising costs we have, over more than 10 years, relied heavily on the Trustees and Chair to handle the majority of executive tasks. The loss of Trustee Joanna Paulton during the year, due to the conflicting time pressures of work and trusteeship; and the recognition that it would be difficult to recruit a future Chair willing or able to take on such a wide executive responsibility, has focused our minds on the need to make a transition.
The aim would be, not so much to relieve the Trustees of any workload, but to provide greater scope for them to build relationships with partner charities. Work is well underway on this front and we look forward to reporting the outcomes in our next review.
Our thanks, as always, to our Trustees and the Whirlwind team including Accountant Chris Wilde, Donations Manager Alison Chipperfield and Executive Secretary Helen Webb - and, of course, to the partner charities who make such a difference with their endless hard work and commitment.
Steve Chipperfield, on behalf of the Whirlwind Trustees