Pop Up Projects, a national children’s literature development agency and Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO), seeks new applications to its Board of Non-Executive Directors. This is an exciting opportunity for dynamic professionals from a  variety of sectors to volunteer for a non-profit with a ten-year track record of delivering social impact through children’s literature and publishing enterprises. As we emerge from a challenging period of disruption and innovation, driven by a renewed ambition to create a more balanced portfolio of charitable and commercial products and services, Board members will play a pivotal role in supporting the Executive & Creative Director and his team in delivering that ambition. Both during and outside of quarterly Board meetings, Board members ensure good governance, contribute specialist expertise in their field, come together to tackle challenges and problem-solve, and make connections for the benefit of the organisation and its beneficiaries. Over the next three years the Board will also collaboratively spearhead a new philanthropic fundraising drive. Board members will prepare for and attend four quarterly (evening) meetings, engage with staff, partners and funders from time to time, and contribute to Board fundraising.

ABOUT US & OUR WORK

Pop Up Projects (est 2011) is a non-profit social enterprise with a mission to transform lives through literature and publishing. Through our work we aim to:

  1. Provide literary experiences and publishing opportunities for writers and illustrators of all ages, including children and young people;
  2. Engage and inspire, nurture and invest in writers and illustrators from under-represented and excluded backgrounds;
  3. Contribute to a more inclusive canon of children’s books, so that more young readers can find themselves and discover others in the books they read.

We achieve these aims by:

  • providing courses which offer routes into children’s literature and publishing for illustrators and writers of all ages, including children and young people;
  • publishing inclusive children’s books by the illustrators and writers we discover through our courses.

Our flagship offer is Pathways Into Children’s Publishing, a two-year course for aspiring illustrators of colour and illustrators with disabilities, delivered in partnership with and investment from 24 publishers and universities. We also offer one-off illustration masterclasses, short courses and professional development events via our Pathways Plus programme. In the coming years we will be widening opportunities for writers within both of these programmes.

We also produce and present a range of other Pathways Projects in diverse contexts – such as The Rainbow Library, a UK and Ireland-wide literature and publishing programme for and with LGBTQ+ young people.

Our first collection of children’s titles, 10 Stories to Make a Difference, was published in 2021. Between 2024 and 2025 we plan to publish two new lists: eight LGBTQ+ inclusive titles; and ten titles exploring the climate emergency, illustrated by mentees from the Pathways Into Children’s Publishingcourse.

We are currently in the process of rebranding and will be relaunching our website www.pop-up.org.uk in the summer.

We have a team of four full-time and four part-time staff, and expect to recruit two more full time positions within 2022. We are governed by a Board of Non-Executive Directors who volunteer their time to offer strategic support and ensure accountability. Because we are a CIC (and not a charity) we take a business-minded approach to achieving our charitable mission; this greatly informs our ethos, making us enterprising and ambitious.

Since 2011 we’ve secured almost £6,000,000 from funders and sponsors including: Paul Hamlyn, Esmee Fairbairn and Rothschild foundations; Arts Councils in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; National Lottery Community Fund and the Heritage Lottery; Bloomberg, Linklaters and The Guardian; publishers including PenguinRandomHouse, Harper Collins, Scholastic and Oxford University Press.

THE ROLE OF OUR BOARD

The Board’s primary and statutory remit is to review and question, advise on and enhance key areas of the company’s work. These include:

  • Vision, mission, aims, objectives
  • Financial projections and accounts
  • Business planning including fundraising
  • Impact and legacies
  • Policy development
  • Legal matters

The secondary but perhaps more important role of our Board is three-fold: 

  1. To support and empower the Executive & Creative Director and his team in achieving the best possible experiences and outcomes for our beneficiaries and stakeholders;
  2. To contribute to development of products and services, and the growth of a sustainable and thriving enterprise, by contributing ideas and insights, expertise and advice, connections and introductions, as well as monitoring and navigating risk;
  3. To actively take part in fundraising through a Board-led philanthropic donations strategy*, and – where relevant – providing input and advice in support of major grant applications, sponsorship approaches, and sales strategies.

*It is not a requirement for Board members to bring existing connections to philanthropic donors to the organisation – though members with such connections will be especially welcome – but all members will contribute to our campaigns to cultivate new donors.

JOINING THE BOARD

We are seeking expressions of interest from individuals with expertise in the following areas:

  • Publishing – applicants in senior positions e.g. managing director, head of sales, senior commissioning editor or art director;
  • Digital – applicants with experience of digital product development in the tech/EdTech sector, especially as we will soon be recruiting a Digital Experience Manager with a remit to develop a new digital product for schools;
  • Legal – applicants who are senior partners in (family, corporate) law firms, to provide guidance from time to time as well as connections in support of our fundraising;
  • Donor cultivation – applicants with experience of cultivating medium/high net-worth individuals and/or contributing to smaller scale donations schemes and fundraising events. Board members with expertise in this area will not be required to contribute to other areas of the organisation’s work

We are also currently seeking a new Chair of the Board – if this is of interest email medhat@pop-up.org.uk for a separate job description.

DIVERSITY & INCLUSION

Anyone joining our Board will be passionate about and committed to transforming the lives of especially children and young people through literature, and ensuring there is greater inclusion and representation in publishing. Diversity is at the heart of our model in terms of the places we work, the artists we commission, the audiences we reach, as well as our organisational culture. We strive to ensure diversity at both staff and Board levels and therefore welcome expressions of interest from applicants from backgrounds that are often under-represented at Board levels, especially people of colour, disabled people and people who identify within the LGBTQ+ spectrum. We are also currently expanding our work nationally and would particularly welcome applicants who are based in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

EXPECTATIONS

  • three years’ tenure – with potential to roll-over to a second tenure
  • average 3 days per year statutory duties:
    • preparatory reading of Board packs, sent out two weeks prior to Board meetings, approximately two-three hours
    • attending minimum three out of four quarterly Board meetings, 6pm-9pm, in-person or online
  • 1-4* days of time per year e,g to meet with relevant staff, participate in interviews, attend meetings with important externals**
  • 1-4* days of time per year contributing to Board-led fundraising e.g. communicating with potential donors, attending events, promoting schemes

*Some Board members will have more time than others – for those with the least time we ensure a minimum contribution of time (e.g. two days across one year) outside of Board meetings.

**We usually work with new members to determine a particular focus or goal that they will contribute to during their tenure.

MAKING AN APPLICATION

If you are interested in applying for this role, please submit a short ‘expression of interest’ letter, addressing the following:

  • Your professional history and areas of expertise you might bring to the Board
  • Any personal qualities, passions and ideas you might bring to the organisation
  • Why you want to champion the values and aims of our organisation

Email expressions of interest to our Finance & Operations Manager, Medhat Gindi, at medhat@pop-up.org.uk. If you’d like to discuss this opportunity before making an application, please let Medhat know and if appropriate he will arrange a call with the Executive & Creative Director, Dylan Calder.