Community based organisations are often forged in a crucible of pressure – they’re under a deadline to launch a campaign, or to take on a community asset from the local council.
Under these circumstances their goals are driven by these external factors, and what needs to happen is clear. Building a culture of the organisation for the long-term feels very much like a secondary concern. There’s not the time to work out how the wider community might be engaged in the medium and longer-term, or how the board will work together to make decisions, or how they remain accountable to the community which forged them.
How will the community of members, users and beneficiaries be engaged with to provide meaningful feedback and ideas? How will they exert genuine influence and feel a sense of wider ownership? How will the board regenerate itself when people’s natural volunteer cycle comes to an end? How will be Board get the information it needs from the people on the ground to properly analyse the organisation’s performance, and set strategic priorities? And how do they do all of this whilst juggling family, work and volunteer demands?
For too long, these issues have been recognised as challenging and discussed a great deal in theory, but there’s been precious little in the way of practical steps and real-life examples to help community organisations navigate this phase, or even understand what meaningful and helpful community engagement and accountability really looks like in practice.
We will gather lots of experienced and not so experienced community organisations together, along with practitioners, researchers and others who think about these issues and work together to explore what the good behaviours are that can nudge a community organisation’s board into the right habits that will serve them and their communities well, and what are the danger signs that are easy to ignore and difficult to deal with once they’ve become embedded.
How can Community organisations counteract the tendency for those involved at the start to drift into the distance, as they get used to everything being OK, and the Board get too comfortable or too busy to really try and engage? How does the organisation remain open and inclusive to new members of its community? How can they recruit to their boards new blood in ways that don’t end up looking like a clique of friends, or the same-old usual suspects of volunteers?
We will share the latest insights, discuss and then share our inputs t