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The CSG’s story so far

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After 4 months, lots of learning, questioning, and more than a few laughs, now is a good time to share the B&D Community Steering Group’s journey so far. So, fasten your seatbelts for a journey that starts with a fruity quiz and ends with a panel of experts!

The CSG hit a milestone this month, as we reached the end of our time with social investment experts the Curiosity Society. We have worked with Curiosity Society since December 2021 to learn about investment and get comfortable making decisions as a group. Here’s what we’ve been up to …

The CSG with BD Giving team, smiling for a photo

How it Started

Once recruited and onboarded, the first step for the group was to establish our shared priorities for change in the borough. We used the Borough Manifesto as a starting point because we knew that the priorities stated within it were voted on by local people. We picked our own priorities from that list, then we took a second vote as if we were choosing for our neighbours. Most people’s votes changed, which gave us all food for thought: thinking about the whole community has been a priority from the outset.

The final exercise of our first workshop gave members a chance to make theoretical decisions about where to invest their own money. You can see exactly how this worked by taking part in the Orange, Apple or Lemons, quiz. The results of the quiz are anonymous but if you take part, you will see the results, and get a flavour of the kinds of questions we’ve been asking ourselves.

Our Shared Aims

In the second workshop, we explored the groups hopes for the future impact of the Community Endowment Fund. Using a model called ‘The Bullseye’ we considered and prioritised our aims for the Fund.

These aims are expressions of the change to see happen or issues we want to target, now and for future generations. 

You can read our bullseye statements here

Our homework after the workshop was to write letters from Barking & Dagenham residents of the future about the work we’re setting in train now.

Read more messages from the future here.

Sourcing Deals

In the third and fourth workshops, we learnt about potential deals for the Community Endowment Fund from Curiosity Society and heard from social investment expert, Danny Wilson-Dodd. At this stage, our group were getting comfortable with the language of investment (risk, return, liquidity and impact) and narrowing down on what they really wanted to achieve from their work. 

Each CSG member had been asked to find potential deals, so we opened the meeting by sharing our experiences of doing that. It’s fair to say that many of us found this challenging, particularly as we’d set such geographically tight criteria.

“I want to invest in B&D but it’s really hard to find an investment in the borough. Is it better to invest somewhere else or keep the investment in B&D and move our aim away from the centre of our bullseye? What is more ethical?”

Cautiously Empowered

Using a model called The Quadrilateral (pictured, left) helped us balance the principles, involved in making investment decisions. Despite starting the meeting with trepidation, once again, the group were able to come to a consensus on some theoretical investments.

CSG member Wunmi described how she came away feeling cautiously empowered after using the quadrilateral in this short video down below:

“I started out by feeling that I had to make decisions dispassionately, that investments should only be made logically but the way BD Giving designs their processes has shown me that sentimentality is important if you’re trying to respond to what people need.

After four, fairly intense meetings, it was time to slow things down a bit and reflect on where we’d got to.

We decided to have an in-person meeting to solidify our learning, blow off steam and strengthen the bonds we’d developed in the last few months. We talked about our strengths as  a group and enjoyed a delicious pot luck meal together. 

What an amazing, committed, and passionate bunch.

A table full of food with people helping themselves on either side

An Expert Panel

The fifth and last workshop with Lara and Chris from Curiosity Society was a bit emotional, we reflected on our progress and had an expert panel, including Amir Rizwan from Big Society Capital, Chris Wood from the Curiosity Society, and Alex Jeremy, a BD Giving Trustee and local resident. 

After this panel answered questions, Lara, playfully revealed that there was a second expert panel. Watch the video of the new panel of experts here.

What Next?

The CSG are still actively researching investment opportunities, which they will be assessing against, their investment tools, the quadrilateral and the bullseye before our next meeting on the 28th April.

In that meeting, BD Giving’s trustees and the CSG will come together to share a draft investment policy. They will collaborate on the development of the policy before it is finalised in May. 

If you would like to find out more about the CSG or the Community Endowment Fund you can contact Cameron Bray at hello@bdgiving.org.uk or sign up for our newsletter to stay in the loop with all our work in the borough

Find out more about the CSG members here.

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