The founding of CHARM
CHARM was formed in 1996 following a Records Management Society conference on records management and archives in the charity sector. This conference was the first to focus on the sector and the records manager/archivists from The Children’s Society and NSPCC gave papers.
During delegate discussion the idea emerged of forming a group for people managing records and archives in the charity and voluntary sector. An initial meeting was held in August 1996, hosted by the British Red Cross archivist and attended by seven others. It was agreed to form a group and its name, and the acronym, were also decided on.
The next few meetings established CHARM’s identity and it adopted informal ways of working, which have proved effective and have served the group well over the years.
Since 1996 the group has grown substantially, giving CHARM the opportunity to develop its
activities and allowing many of its members to contribute and actively participate.
CHARM’s aims are:
- to promote the importance of charity and voluntary sector records and archives and to raise the profile of the role of archivists and records managers within the charity and
voluntary sector and the archive, records management and information professions
- to become a support network enabling those working in this specialised field to give and receive information, ideas and assistance
- to hold regular meetings at which issues of relevance can be discussed
- to facilitate collaboration on specific projects of interest or benefit to the members of the group
- to solicit appropriate information and expertise from within the archive, records
management and information professions.
What does CHARM do?
Regular meetings form the core of CHARM’s activities. These are held four times a year and are a mixture of business, discussion and presentations on specific issues, with invited speakers when relevant. Past presentation topics include disaster planning, oral history, the Archive
Lottery Advisory Service and the Freedom of Information Act.
Members volunteer to host, chair and write minutes for meetings, giving the opportunity for
everyone to participate in these tasks.
Visits to member’s organisations can provide a valuable contribution to enhancing the profile of the host’s work within their organisation.
CHARM-online, the group’s e-mail discussion list, is a central component in CHARM’s activities. It allows all members to be involved, regardless of their ability to attend meetings, providing
opportunities for extending discussions and giving support to individual members.
Working groups are sometimes formed to undertake specific projects, with members
volunteering to take part in those that interest them. CHARM responses have been made to consultations held by various archival organisations; articles contributed to a Records
Management Journal edition on the charity and voluntary sector; and an edition of ARC (the
Archives and Records Association’s monthly periodical) produced, which focussed on CHARM and its members’ organisations and activities. One of CHARM’s current groups is working on
developing a national strategy for charity and voluntary sector archives, in cooperation with other archival and charity and voluntary sector organisations.
Individual members also represent CHARM in a variety of ways by taking part in sessions at
Archives and Records Association’s conferences, speaking at other events, and being a member of the British Standards Institution’s Working Panel for the British Standard on Data Protection.
Who belongs to CHARM?
Most members work for charities and voluntary organisations, but archivists from repositories with charity archives among their collections are also members. Some members are generally interested in the sector’s archives, but do not actively manage an organisation’s records.
Many well-known organisations are represented among CHARM’s membership, alongside those with a much lower level of public recognition. They include Amnesty International, Christian Aid, Leonard Cheshire Disability, the Planned Environment Therapy Trust, the Salvation Army and the Together Trust. CHARM also has members whose organisations are not primarily known as being charities, such as Rambert Dance Company, the Elgar Birthplace Museum, Girlguiding UK, the Royal College of Physicians of London, the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) and the Zoological Society of London.
CHARM’s membership is occupationally diverse. Alongside professionally qualified archivists and records managers, there are librarians and other information professionals, people without a formal professional qualification, administrators and volunteer archivists. Many members’ work is solely concerned with records, archives and related issues, such as Data Protection compliance. However, some members have other unrelated responsibilities to fulfil, while a few members’ job descriptions cover much wider areas, so they have little or no time to give
attention to their archive and records management responsibilities. This diversity is an
important element in CHARM’s identity.