BD Giving Notes – #1

A new commitment

At BD Giving, we spend a lot of time reflecting about our values, what they mean in practice and how these values impact our work. And while we tend to explicitly talk about those values in our communication, values like collaboration, inclusivity, and adaptability, others are more implicit. Amongst those implicit values are accountability, transparency and learning. 

To kickstart this new financial year, and as we introduce our new Learning & Participation strategy, I’m launching BD Giving Notes, a blog aimed at sharing some thoughts on work, life, and what it’s like to run a social infrastructure organisation. My plan is to publish these notes weekly, focusing on a couple of things I have learnt or done in the previous week; what’s gone well and what didn’t. 

I’ll admit that this is not an easy process for me, partly because there is always ‘something more pressing to do’ than sit down and write, whether it’s preparing for a board meeting or a spagbol for my 3 and 6 year olds. I find it equally challenging because part of my responsibilities as CEO include promoting our work and representing the organisation. The system is such that it requires me to ‘put on a show’ and claim to whoever will listen how incredible we are and how transformative our work is – especially in writing. The idea of looking under the bonnet and exposing what is not working well feels very alien. This is the kind of information that I’m expected to manage rather than highlight. And this is even more true, perhaps, for an organisation that works in a place.  

This is not to say, of course, that this exercise will solely focus on failures, and I intend to reflect on things I’m genuinely excited about, and where I feel we are breaking new ground. But how can we claim to be accountable if we’re not willing to disclose what is not going to plan? Learning as we go is at the heart of our approach, and the team and I strongly believe in the power of growing from mistakes. Sharing this learning process with you feels like the right thing to do.

To conclude this first note, I’d like to formulate a hope: that this exercise will make you want to learn more about BD Giving’s work and mission. I can’t promise that everything I write will be worthy of your time, but I’m hoping some of what I share will be useful and resonate, and that it will encourage you to reach out and connect. On a personal level, this will give me the opportunity to reflect, ‘look up’, ensure that I don’t lose sight of our mission, and how BD Giving can make a difference in Barking and Dagenham and beyond.

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