Building trust and sharing responsibility

After the first meeting of the Community Steering Group with BD Giving’s trustees, we spoke to a CSG member and the Chair of the Board to see how it went.

On the 26 April, the local people we recruited and supported to learn about the world of social investment met with our board of trustees to discuss and adapt a draft investment policy (which we will share publicly soon). 

In advance of the meeting, CSG members had raised questions about the power dynamic between the two groups and some concerns about whether their opinions would be heard by the board members, so the meeting was a timely and important opportunity for both groups to build understanding.

We asked Ian Parkes, Chair of BD Giving’s Trustees, what he thought when the idea of recruiting a group of local people to design the endowment policy was first proposed to him.

“I was open minded because it’s all square with our approach to participation. As a board we have a legal responsibility to make good decisions about how the Endowment Fund is used but I also thought that if we set this running, we can’t then ignore what the group tells us. It would undermine the whole process.

“I had lots of questions about costs, representation, and how we could help the group to understand the money should support the future of our borough.

“But my main concern was if they came back to us with something we couldn’t agree to. We must demonstrate responsibility to the council; we also have legal responsibilities under the Charity Commission and company law.

“I still felt all those concerns right up until when we met. But the meeting was very reassuring because the CSG had the same questions about the policy as I did. I felt very happy at the end of the meeting. 

“I want to thank the group for all the work they’ve done. Their input will make a direct influence on our decision making. I hope they now feel a sense of involvement and that they’ve gained something from the experience.”

Next up, CSG member Liliana Hristova describes how she felt after the meeting:

“Meeting virtually with BD Giving trustees to discuss the draft Endowment Investment Policy was fantastic! It felt like an invisible wall was lifted and replaced with the sense of trust and coherence. 

We received very useful feedback to continue to shape the policy into a clear, transparent, and purposeful working policy.”

Finally, we asked Ian if he had any advice for others embarking on a similar journey. Here’s what he said:

Don’t underestimate how responsible a community will be if you give power to them.

What next for Barking & Dagenham’s Community Steering Group?

The Investment Policy will be finalised in another meeting of the board and the CSG on 26 May. In the meantime, the CSG are still actively researching investment opportunities that will help them achieve their aims for the borough.

If you would like to find out more about the CSG or the Community Endowment Fund, read the story so far or contact Cameron Bray at hello@bdgiving.org.uk.

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