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3 December 2014 – minutes

Facilitating Group meeting

3 December – 6.15 – 9.00

Sami (until 8.30), Ian, Yula, Sophie, Elena (via Skype), Isis (from 7.30), Rose (from 8.00) Apologies: Cilla

There are ten areas which need some discussion/ work. We set out to determine which of these are a priority for the next meeting and particularly before the next funding round. The ten areas are:

  1. Edge values
  2. Staff (and volunteer) roles
  3. Funding criteria (tightening up to reduce number of applications)
  4. Scoring system
  5. Funding model (funding lots of groups with small amounts or something else?)
  6. Process for joining Edge
  7. Reviewing members
  8. Advisory Groups (recruiting more members, enabling them to participate)
  9. Dealing with discriminatory comments in scoring process
  10. Dealing with bad behaviour in meetings (discrimination, dominating)
  1. Edge values

We agreed not to rush this discussion and not to pose more than one question to the members at the next meeting. We agreed the question for this meeting will be “Who should make decisions at Edge and why?” This will hopefully get to the underlying values. Sami has offered to facilitate this part of the meeting.

Some other questions we thought about for future meetings were:

  • Who should we fund?
  • What should we fund?
  • Who should decide the working structure of Edge?

We’ll circulate a simplified version of the document that lays out the ways we work together, processes etc (see end of document) to members as preparation for the values discussion but don’t want to ‘prime’ members too much so wouldn’t have it at the meeting itself. We will also put it on the website to make it clearer to prospective members what we’re all about.

We’ll then ask representatives from each Advisory Group to attend a half-day meeting focused on values to work on this further.

We should also think about how we promote our values, phrases like ‘putting Edge values into practice’, ‘broad base but on the edge’, ‘change happens at the edge’ could help.

  • Simplify the document on Edge processes etc
  1. Staff (and volunteer) roles

We’d like to put together a proposal on this based on the feedback Cilla received from members. As Cilla was missing from the meeting didn’t discuss this much.

  • Put together a proposal on staffing (Cilla? Rose also happy to check over)
  1. Funding criteria

We came to the conclusion that tightening up the funding criteria probably won’t reduce the number of applications we get, although we regretted the fact that we have to turn down so many applicants. The difficultly is that we have a broad base. If we had staff in place to do outreach we could get more members which would mean the workload could be shared out better.

It does seem there is a need to clarify our category 2 of funding, systemic change. This is very open to interpretation and whilst it’s meant to be about ‘dismantling and replacing systems and structures’ rather than reform, there are still groups applying that aren’t very radical. Particularly, it seems group are asking to be considered under both criteria because they believe it means they have double the chance of getting funded, we need to make clear that this is not the case and that actually it could have a negative impact if they end up being scored under category 2 when they don’t meet that criteria.

At the meeting we’d like to agree on some new wording for category 2, we quite liked Revolutionary Change, rather than Systemic Change. The Systemic Change Advisory Group are also working on something at the moment.

  • Put together some articles/ links about the different forms of change, eg reform and revolution, for members to read ahead of time. Ian recommended Gary Hamel, Leading the Revolution, although this is about business so may not be suitable.
  1. Scoring system

The values discussion will have a lot of influence on what changes we make to the scoring process.

We talked about whether we just needed to offer a buddy system for members who don’t understand the system or aren’t confident with computers, perhaps with a training video, or whether a more fundamental change was needed.

Most other democratic decision-making is made via consensus/ collective methods. Could we have a combination of this and the Wisdom of Crowds model we have now, where lots of members score? We thought it might work to have each Advisory Group decide for themselves the process they use to put forward the best applications in their category to the rest of the members. We would encourage sharing of information between members of each AG as it has been a problem in the past if one AG member has inside knowledge others don’t have.

We will have to think about what happens after AG have put forward their applications, eg do the rest of the members then vote with the same system we have now? If so, does the scoring need to be simplified and more support offered? Or does each AG put forward, eg 1 group for the final funding day and 2 groups for small grants, with no general member scoring? What happens when a group falls into more than one AG?

  •   Write a proposal for a system where each AG has their own way of putting forward the best applications in their category.
  1. Funding model

Concerns were raised that groups applying for repeat funding were being penalised by having received funding before, when actually long-term funding is really important.

Could we offer longer-term funding? This goes back to our values. We thought that it could be a great learning exercise for everyone if we funded one group in each AG area over three years. We’d give them £1,000 twice a year, at which point we’d also bring all the groups together to share what they’ve been doing etc. This would mean we’d need £54,000 of funding plus another £10,000ish to pay for hire of venues, travel etc to bring them all together. Groups would have to commit to meeting up during that period.

We’d need to make sure we have the funds for this ahead of time, otherwise we could end up letting groups down part way through the process. We’d also like to still be able to run other funding rounds. We’d like to try to go to other funders for support for this. We could first try to get funds without having chosen the groups, but it may help to be able to give the names of the groups first. This way of funding will also make it easier to fundraise as there will be clearer impact.

  • Write up proposal
  1. Process for joining Edge

We’ll circulate the procedure that the Welcome Group proposed (which was agreed with the Facilitating Group) and ask members to contact the Welcome Group if they have any questions or concerns. After a number of people have been through this process we can review it.

  1. Reviewing members

As above.

  1. Advisory Groups

This would be partly addressed by the discussion around the scoring system as the aim would be to make Edge more accessible.

  1. Dealing with discriminatory comments in scoring process

This would fall under the values discussion.

  1. Dealing with bad behaviour in meetings

This would fall under values discussion.

  1. What’s next?

For a process from now on, we agreed:

  1. London members’ meeting 31 January with evening fundraising event
  2. Manchester members’ meeting mid-February
  3. Manchester values meeting in March, followed by a film screening, perhaps speakers

The agenda for the two members’ meeting would be the same. We’d aim to have some people attend both meetings. There’s a possibility that there will be some disagreement between the two groups. [What will we do if there is?]

  1. Movement for Justice

Since they are no longer able to meet with us before Saturday we agreed their application cannot be considered in this round.


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