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2 March 2015 – minutes

Facilitating Group meeting
2 March 2015
7pm – 9pm
Present: Isis, Nim, Ian, Yula, Sophie, Rose (for first ten minutes), Cilla (for first half hour)

1. Quick fixes

It has been agreed by members that we will make the maximum grant £3,000 (although London still wanted to reserve the right to give up to £5,000 but not make this public) and that we will make the slight changes to the funding application questions.

  • [SP: assuming we circulate minutes of both meetings and point this out? We didn’t discuss this]

2. Values statement

We had some discussion about the statement, use of certain terminology and the need for a glossary. It was felt that we could also help build understanding between movements by having a glossary and other information on the website.

  • We agreed to send the latest draft, which attempts to take into account comments raised at both meetings, to members and give them 10 days to respond, chasing up after 5 days via the Advisory Groups if there has been little response.

3. Systemic change statement

We discussed the statement and points raised at the meetings. It seems some members were keen on the longer discussion document, but not so keen on the final statement.

Two other points came up:
1) The need to have two separate categories for funding. What is the benefit of having both? Should the systemic change statement be simpler in language so that it is accessible to all, and particularly those who may not identify with political language?

2) The systemic change Advisory Group. This is problematic as the other Advisory Groups are related to community self-determination, which does not apply to the systemic change group. Can we have a different kind of group that advises on eg systemic change, environment, whether a project might get funding elsewhere etc? More of a special interest/ technical expertise group. At the moment, the main function of the systemic change group is to ensure anti-capitalist, anarchist and other more radical groups get a good number of scores from people who share that ideology, otherwise they would not get short-listed. In some ways, it is a check against the affects of the membership becoming more mainstream in politics. Could we state clearly that the systemic change group aims to balance out the scoring so that groups that are not community-specific are not disadvantaged? Or perhaps it becomes a group that is ideologically focused (eg anti-capitalist, anarchist).

  • We agreed to do the same as with the values statement; send the latest draft to members and give them 10 days to respond, chasing up after 5 days via the Advisory Groups if there has been little response. We should make clear that this is only the current proposal and it may change and also give the context, eg it refers to one of the two categories of funding and give the wording of the other one.
  • We will revisit the other topics (the need for two separate categories of funding and the systemic change Advisory Group) another time.

3. Staffing

The London and Manchester groups had two very different proposals. The London meeting proposed two people three days a week, both in London, one admin/ fundraising and the other communications/ outreach (particularly media and social media). Manchester proposed 2 days a week admin, plus 2 or 3 issued-based regional organisers. The London meeting had concerns about isolated workers, which was the reasoning behind two staff in London. They also proposed having an office space (eg hot desking at like-minded orgs office) so workers could sit together and provide a physical space for members to visit. We wondered if having the right support system in place was more important than having workers in the same location?

We talked about the need for communications work and some felt that creating our own media through radio podcasts, interviews and articles with funded groups was a better option than chasing mainstream media or social media (which could be done collectively by members).

We felt that as an amalgamation of the two proposals we would put forward:

2 days per week administration/ internal operations
2 days per week regional organiser / communications worker in London (one or two people)
1 day per week regional organiser in two other locations
Total: 6 days

Once expenses, employers’ NI and sessional fees for other members are taken into account, the total cost would be £36,731, meaning that total spend on grants would be about 62% if based on giving out £80,000 per year. NB There are also costs involved with members travel to meetings, venue hire, communications etc. See attached budget.

Rose also said she has continued talking to Tris Lumley of New Philanthropy Capital who has approached some funders about supporting our core costs. Rose would be happy to follow this up with him (Ian happy to look at budget).

  • We agreed to put forward the Manchester, London and FG proposals to the members for a vote.  We will also include the general aims for the new staffing model and make clear that the FG had concerns about the London-centric staffing model from the London group which contradicts our aims to challenge power dynamics and point out that concerns were also raised at the meeting itself.
  • We will also propose that the regional organisers organise gatherings for local members as a way to help connect them and suggest that there is one day (or set time) per week where all workers must work so they can all check in with each other (an alternatives to paying to hot desking idea)

4. Scoring system

The London meeting felt the scoring system should remain as it is (they did not raise the issue of the limited points system) and supported the idea of members meeting up to discuss applications (but still scoring individually). The Manchester meeting agreed with the change from scoring simply out of ten (not out of ten but you have a limited number of points to give out) and also supported the idea of members meeting up. People really appreciated Sami’s hard work on looking at the different scoring systems but felt that the weighted/ slanted averages and the Reweighted Range Voting system was too complicated for people to understand.

  • [SP: assuming we circulate this with the minutes? Maybe give people one last chance to feed in since unsure if London meeting actually agree to removing the limited points system?]

5. Facilitating Group

We agreed it would be good to have a crossover of FG members, particularly during this period of recruiting staff etc. Currently we have 9 FG members (including Sophie). What is a reasonable number to have? A question for the members perhaps.

6. What we didn’t get to

In both meetings we ran out of time to talk about the new model of funding (longer-term, bringing groups together), dealing with discriminatory comments during meetings etc, requirements of members and Working Group members, making decisions outside of meeting and new members. We also didn’t get to this during the FG call! But it was felt that the long-term funding idea was worth considering before the next round and it may also be a way of getting funding out to groups whilst we sort out staffing and other issues without having to deal with a full funding round.

We thought it would be good to try to get another FG call in fairly soon to tie these things up. Here’s the Doodle poll again, please put in your availability: http://doodle.com/zqenrhmqur6szi5c. Generally perhaps better to have more regular but shorter calls?

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