Trustee Interview – Sandi wassmer

Name: Sandi Wassmer

Charity: The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

Bio – Personal and professional experience and passions

Sandi Wassmer is a visionary leader, strategist and change agent, with senior management experience within the charity and commercial sectors.

A long-standing human rights advocate, registering blind in 2008 just reinforced her desire to make the world a more inclusive place.

The bulk of her career was spent in the media sector, working in a range of commercial organisations—as CFO & COO of Universal Studios’ SyFy UK TV Channel, COO of Unilever’s first dotcom investment, Wowgo, and MD of digital agency, Copious. In 2014, she decided to make the move into the charity sector and joined social care charity, Jewish Care, as Service Development Manager.

Sandi joined the RNIB Board as a Trustee in 2014 and became the Chair of its subcommittee for fundraising, marketing and campaigning in 2017.

Can you tell us a bit more about your charity?

The RNIB is one of the UK’s leading sight loss charities and the largest community of blind and partially sighted people. Our aim is to play a critical role in creating a world where there are no barriers to people living with sight loss.

Q&A Questions

  1. How long have you been a trustee?

Four years.

  1. What made you want to become a trustee?

Two reasons—to give back to the organisation that saved my life when I lost my sight and to play my part in creating a more inclusive world for people living with sight loss.

  1. Why did you want to support a charity in the sight loss sector?

Having lived experience of sight loss and a broad range of commercial skills, I felt that I had something of value to contribute to the organisation.

  1. Did you know much about this charitable cause before you became involved as a trustee?

Yes; I was a service user. I also wrote a blog about living with sight loss for several years for Action for Blind People, which eventually merged with the RNIB.

  1. What do you feel trusteeship adds to your personal and professional development?

Having moved from the commercial world into the charity sector around the same time that I joined the board of the RNIB, my   trusteeship forms part of my CPD at work. I find that what I learn in my day job I bring to my trusteeship and vice versa. On a personal level, I have gotten to know some incredible and inspirational people living with sight loss.

  1. What value have you been able to add to your charity with your personal and professional experience?

I was recruited specifically for my commercial, digital and marketing skills and I believe this is where I add the most value. However, as I evolve on the board and in my day job, I bring experience from the social care sector, which gives me a different perspective than I had when I joined. On a personal level, I have an unusual mix of empathy and directness, which enables me to get to the root of issues in a safe and gentle way.

  1. What do you think is the biggest challenge currently facing charities?

The changing way that people “give“, whether that be time, money or both. Charities need to move with the times, not only into the digital age, but away from more traditional fundraising and volunteering models.

  1. What would you say are the important attributes a trustee should have?

Knowledge of the sector in which the charity works, an understanding of the needs of the charity’s customers, a good strategic mind, creativity, empathy, integrity and a sense of humour.

  1. If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about becoming a trustee what would it be?

Don’t become a trustee because you think it’s the right thing to do or it would look good on your CV. Find something that makes your heart sing and throw yourself into it!