2 March 2014 minutes
Manchester Review Meeting
16 Present: Linnea, Jacqui L, Patrick, Jennifer, Stuart, Elena, Rose, Isis, Jaqui C, Sameea, Christina, Nkirote, Amina, Dan (first half), Aderonke (second half) Sophie. Facilitated by: Linnea
1-5pm Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester
The start of the session was a review of the decisions made at the London meeting 2 weeks ago. Small groups came together to discuss the topics.
The main points raised were:
- We should try to make videos with the groups we’ve funded, in particular using a participatory video production method which puts the groups in control of the final product – they are supported in filming and editing themselves. Jacqui has offered to do this with groups and has the necessary equipment.
- If we want to reach groups that are often excluded from funding we need to be less reliant on the internet. Whilst most of our members have internet access etc, many of the groups that most need funding communicate in different ways. We need to be aware of this. It’s vital that our members get out into communities and meet people face-to-face and provide information and support.
As we have been very London-centric so far, we should not hold the first Radical Sharing Forum in London, in fact, perhaps we should not hold any in London during the pilot year. We could also consider building in a social event after the forums.
Facilitating Group (change in questions for funding applications and new member applications).
- There was some concern about whether it is too easy to apply to Edge and whether that results in some good groups being swamped out by too many others.
- We currently have a question which asks about existing funding. Could we change this to something like “How do you currently sustain your group financially and why do you want to change this? Have you experienced challenges in applying for funding?”
- The group felt that the question which was preferred by the London meeting about which tactics and approaches were preferred was problematic. It may not actually bring out the person’s values and politics. Could we ask a more direct question? Maybe the question about what you see as the systemic change of the issues you’re working on would be better.
No-one took part in this group but a suggestion was made that we could ask people to double their monthly donations.
No further comments to feedback.
The Manchester meeting were tasked with coming to decisions on 3 areas: regionalisation, influencing other funders and changes to the application assessment process. Again small groups came together to discuss each topic. We also added another topic around membership applications to continue the discussion from the earlier session.
Membership application questions
A point was raised about how much we want to act as ‘gate-keepers’ – do we want to turn down any new member requests? In the past we agreed we would try not to turn people down and would try to reach a mutual decision about membership with the applicant if there were concerns the member might not be inline with our values.
Longer and more complex questions could also exclude people. Could make us become less diverse. Should we have a softer approach which might include a phone call with member applicants?
Questions could include something on the lines of what have you done in the past, what are you doing currently and what would you like to do in the future? We could ask about what networks they are involved in.
We need to be clearer about why we are asking members to ask these questions, the statement about membership could be followed simply by something like “this is why we ask potential members so answer the following questions”.
There was no clear proposal so it was agreed that the small group who had been working on this spend some more time on it, along with Facilitating Group members who had already been tasked with working it out following the London meeting. A call out would be sent to members to ask for their input.
Flipchart – membership question
- We should map existing members so we know where everyone is.
- We should also map funded groups and other applicants.
- We should have a dedicated ‘anchor’ in each region (or town) who is responsible for getting word out and communicating with members in those areas. They would have Edge business cards to give out with their contact details.
- Regional contacts would then keep in touch through email, Skype or whatever method they prefer to share info etc.
All proposals agreed.
Flipchart – regionalisation
Although there was not a proposal about how decisions that affect the whole of Edge are made across the different regions many people commented that they liked being able to make decisions on some topics at this meeting and it seemed to work quite well splitting decisions between London and Manchester and especially having the opportunity to give feedback on decisions made elsewhere and some cross over of people (Sophie, Isis, Linnea and Stuart were at London meeting too).
Changes to application assessment process
Of the two options presented about the minimum grant at the final meeting, the group proposed that we go with option 2, which was that any group which had requested £1,500 or less would get this without having their application voted on at the final meeting. They would still be encouraged to come to the final meeting though.
On the issue of the funded groups sometimes being unbalanced in terms of representation of different groups, it was proposed that this is tackled by doing more work earlier in the process to give support to groups to apply.
Groups which self-identify as facing barriers to funding due to discrimination, inexperience in applying for funding or other factors, should be offered additional support from the beginning. Profiles of the Advisory Group members (but not names since concern was raised about this), including skills, experience, background, should be listed on the website so that potential applicants can see who makes the decisions and is able to give them support. This would make the AG more transparent as currently it is quite mysterious both internally and externally. They could contact AG members through the co-ordinator, who would keep a detailed list of AG members and skills.
Agreed (NB we need a statement for website about additional support. We should be getting info on AG members through the membership survey)
There should also be more training to educate members about different communities since in some cases members have been making inappropriate or misguided comments about applications due to not having sufficient understanding of the community/ issue. There should also be a culture of support amongst AG members to help educate each other about different communities and approaches, perhaps including AG members meeting up.
It was agreed that the small group working on this will spend some more time working out the details.
The main proposals were:
- We would invite other funders to attend our final funding days. There was concern about how applicants might feel about this, but the feeling from applicants in the room was that they felt this would be useful. Another comment was that we would need to be transparent about this and give people the opportunity to raise concerns on the day.
- We should think about an ‘offer’ to other funders. For funders wanting to support more radical work or to reach out beyond the usual groups and communities we could offer several things: distributing funds for them, putting them in contact with applicant groups that might fit their criteria (if for example they were looking for migrant-led groups in the Manchester area and we had some suitable contacts) or working with them to adjust their processes to make funding more accessible. A point was raised that we should be careful not to let any funding we receive (for core costs or to distribute) distract us from our aim of being grassroots funded (many people giving small monthly amounts) as funders often take new directions etc so we should never rely on it as a source of income. We also need to be careful not to be overly critical or arrogant.
Both proposals agreed.
Flipchart – influencing funders
As was discussed at the London meeting, for Edge to work in a way that challenges power structures and enables everyone to have an equal say and for all applicants to have an equal chance of receiving funding, we need to invest some time in building member skills in the following areas:
- Facilitation skills – so a range of people can facilitate the meetings, since facilitating does give people some power over others so we don’t want the same people doing it all the time
- Power and diversity – so members can better understand how power and privilege works in society but also within Edge
- Approaches to change – understanding more about different approaches and perspectives about change and how it is achieved, which can vary greatly between different communities.
Review of the day
A few comments:
- As a new member, I now have a better understanding of how Edge works.
- It was good to have an opportunity to air my experiences with the scoring process and I liked the link with people from the London meeting.
- We’ve achieved a large chunk of what we set out to do at the beginning of the review process.
- It’s been great to have our own decisions to make.
- Feeling more connected.
- The Advisory Group scoring process was quite lonely, looking forward to building relationships.
- Unusual to be in a group of mostly women.
- Commend Edge on challenging themselves but we need to keep repeating the message about power and privilege.
- Excited about regionalisation, raising consciousness and coming together better nationally.
There was also a question about when will we have another funding round, which has not yet been decided as it seems there are a few things still to work on and once the scoring starts people’s attention switches to that so good to give people time to focus on other important tasks.
It was agreed that the groups going away to work some more on the proposals would have two weeks to do this.