Trustees Week 2017 @TrusteesWeek

Cambridgeshire ACRE's Community Buildings Service

Trustees week

Trustees week takes place this year on the 13th to 17th November 2017, take a look at the dedicated webpage to see what is happening across the country.  This site also includes some useful links and resources for trustees.

On the 15th November we are holding one of our regular coffee mornings bringing together village hall trustees and volunteers to discuss two key subjects:

  • The challenges of running small halls.
  • Recruiting and retaining volunteers.

If you are interested in attending please get in touch by contacting Lisa Chambers via the link. These events are a great opportunity to meet other trustees managing village halls from across the county, the coffee morning provides a space for trustees to share their experiences and knowledge, while hopefully learning something new from our discussion topics.

This event will take place on: 15th November 2017 – Wednesday – 10:30 – 12:30

The venue is:…

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Coffee morning invite – why not come along?

Cambridgeshire ACRE's Community Buildings Service

Newton in the Isle Ramp15th November 2017 – Wednesday 10:30 – 12:30.  This is a great opportunity for village hall trustees and volunteers to get together, share knowledge and take part in an informative discussion, the event is open to Members and non-Members of our organisation, please just book a space so we know you are coming along.

Our visit to Newton Village Hall is focusing on the challenges of running small village halls and our discussion will be lead by Dave Gibbs trustee of Newton Village Hall and recently elected trustee of Cambridgeshire ACRE.

We will also be discussing a second topic this time – Recruiting and retaining volunteers, which is such an important part of keeping our halls open as much as possible to the community.  It would be lovely to see as many people there as possible to share your ideas and challenges on this subject.

Please book your…

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Have you taken part in our village hall survey yet?

If you are involved in a village hall, please take a few minutes to fill this survey in. The results will help ACRE to develop the services that will help you.

Cambridgeshire ACRE's Community Buildings Service

Survey image

Please spare the time to take part in our annual survey, your comments and feedback will enable us to improve our service to all village halls and community building in the county.  To take part in the survey please click here.

If you have any questions or concerns about the survey please contact Lisa Chambers.  We hope to be able to issue a full report and actions going forward for next year in December, so you have until 17th November to share your views.

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“Give us a shift”

It sounds like the title of an industrial relations best- seller.

It isn’t, but it could be a clarion call to the voluntary sector across Cambridgeshire to engage with business.

Let me explain…

I read the Support Cambridgeshire State of the Sector Survey for 2017 with some interest. For the first time, it asked the voluntary sector about the support they received form business, and what the nature of such support looked like. The voluntary sector includes charities, community organisations and Friends of Groups, of which there are many.

There’s life out there:

volunteer-1326758_1280We all know that local business lives and works in local communities. My own personal view is that  it’s in businesses best interests to work with the voluntary sector and its communities, not out of pure altruism, or because their Corporate and Social Responsibility Policy requires them to do so, but because it opens that business to new perspectives and new markets. It personally develops staff, and enables business to share their learning experiences.

I was heartened to see that 36% of those community organisations surveyed said that had received some support from local business, and that most of that support had been given face to face by the business concerned.  So no shortage of direct interaction there then..!!

I was more concerned about the following statistic: Of those community organisations that had received support from local business, 42% (almost half) felt they needed no further assistance.

The one shot deal:

I have been contacted by numerous large companies over the past 12 months seeking a team building day, dredging ponds or clearing shrub. Whilst these days are undoubtedly useful for the voluntary sector, they can be limiting (not every community organisation has a pond to dredge after all) and can require a great deal of planning and resource on behalf of the community organisation concerned. Could this be a reason for that statistic?

Or could it simply be that the voluntary sector has yet to grasp the nettle in understanding the importance of on-going support from local business, and that we still fail to talk each other’s language.

So my first resolution on the back of these survey results is to find out.

I need some help:

Of those organisations that had never received any support from business, 79% said they wanted some. Top of their hit list was assistance in marketing and fundraising. Not surprising really.

The voluntary sector is becoming increasingly more competitive, and funding ever harder to achieve and sustain. Funders want more bang for their buck, with more demonstrable evidence of impact for the money given. Finding other forms of income, above and beyond achieving grant funding is becoming essential for the sector, and good quality marketing can give organisations an edge over their competitors. I guess a marketer would call that a USP (the Unique Selling Proposition).

Raising income through fundraising activities is an ever useful weapon in the armoury of community organisations: Time-banking is a great example of that, with successful local events and crowd-funders seen as integral to the way they operate.

To broker or not to broker:

I have read a lot over the past 12 months about how to engage with business. Every commentator believes that business working with communities has to be the way forward, yet most of the schemes I have seen which try to broker a relationship between business and communities appears to be struggling. Evidence suggests that community groups face considerable barriers when approaching business for help and support, and brokerage is seen as key to overcoming these. I am not convinced. Having struggled to broker relationships with business across Cambridgeshire over the past 12 months, there could be another, more simpler way of bringing two or more parties together.

Perhaps we should take a different view. Maybe community groups should simply be trained to make the ask of business, and so called brokers should monitor the results. This is what infrastructure organisations do really well. We train, support and advise, and monitor the impact.

It seems to me that some of our community organisations have got on with the business of engaging with business without any brokerage whatsoever, so perhaps we can learn from them.

I feel a second resolution coming on: I will talk to these groups and get them together in a best practice masterclass on how they did what they did. Others can then learn from the experience, and training needs can be identified. Once again, this is what Infrastructure organisations do really well, bringing people together to talk and share learning, skills and challenges.

Give us a shift:

I guess that’s the clarion call really. Confident and passionate community organisations, trained and capable of asking support from business when they need it.

We all know that relationships are crucial in any walk of life, and this is no different. One small thing can lead to larger others: The call to Give us a shift could lead to donations, good-will gifts, the transfer of knowledge and skill and ultimately, better relations (beyond the world of Corporate and Social Responsibility Policy documents) – and who doesn’t want that.  

The role of infrastructure is to harness the energy that already exists, and make sure people know about it in order to replicate it. Looks like I have some planning to do….???

A personal viewpoint from Russell Rolph, Development Manager of Support Cambridgeshire, commenting on the results of the Annual State of the Sector Survey 2017.

August 2017