Development Group Report 2017 04

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Development Group Report : April 2017

71 Members - we have welcomed 1 new member since our last report

Task 61 - Contacting Groups Procedure

The procedure approved last month - Contacting Groups Procedure - is awaiting implementation. The remits for the Company Secretary, Central Mods and Mentors have been amended to align with the procedure.

Task 63 - Decision Making Processes

A new task, providing some interesting views and observations about how we work nationally. Identifying what works and doesn’t and how that might be impeding or helping us to work well will hopefully help shape how we move forward as a national organisation. So far, discussions have included:

a. The current three major teams - GAT, Geeks and Mentors - are happy with the way they work. But all three need more people, so a look at whether their present procedures and implementation hinders recruitment is worthwhile.

b. The Board is undermanned and the complex of procedures they follow might make it difficult to attract and keep people and to fulfill their remit, along with difficulty in having time to focus on strategy when there isn’t a ‘management team’ to delegate to.

c. The three working groups work differently. This one is closest to the existing remit for working groups with a task list, reports, start of topic notifications etc. The intended role of coordinator being a passive admin person, rather than leading the group is possibly a wasted opportunity.

d. Central Mods team seems to have enough members and haven't raised issues about difficulties with decision making, but perhaps their role could be expanded with more responsibility if we consider a revised structure or discussion platform.

e. The point about procedures being too prescriptive has been made by a few contributors, so that could be something to bear in mind for the future. There is no appetite for an extensive review exercise, but trusting people to achieve aims, rather than detailing every step of the way could be introduced when we review or introduce new procedures and remits. We need to be careful about interpretation of what we write to ensure that flexibility to do things is implemented, and introduce minimum ground rules rather than step by step adherence, which could attract a more varied range of volunteers.

f. The desire for democratic and open decision making processes has resulted in a complicated organisational structure. Getting decisions made within that is exacerbated by working purely online and with no stated 'working hours'. We have some areas which are tightly controlled by written procedures and others which have barely any, so there is little parity between roles.

g. Volunteers nationally often have to be thick skinned as not all contributors to discussions are measured or prepared to accept decisions made by others. Inevitably that leads to some people working 'under the radar' to avoid criticism,c and/or difficulty with retention as people feel undervalued and persecuted.

h. Although it is good to learn from past problems, we need to stop being afraid of morphing into a Freecycle way of doing things. We have checks and balances in place if things do seem to be drifting in that direction.

Task 67 - FD hosting for Caretaker groups

We polled on a change to Caretaker Groups guidelines. After a unanimous vote of 16, we have amended the document to include ‘For groups hosted on Yahoo, appropriate and careful change to being hosted on Freegle Direct should be considered and implemented.’ Mentors can now include this in their consideration of the best way to encourage new local volunteers to step forward, as the complication and onerous implications of being hosted on Yahoo has often made recruitment difficult.

Task 68 - Addition to define Caretaker

The Abandoned Groups Procedure was amended to add a definition of a caretaker, which will allow for more flexible ways to deal with groups that have been effectively abandoned but are not being run by Mentors.

“A caretaker of a group can be:

  • a Mentor looking after a group within the guidelines of Caretaker Groups, or
  • anyone looking after a group for an absent owner.”

Trashnothing groups crossposting

This was raised and discussed briefly. The top option for Trashnothing members is to post to ‘all groups’, which can result in wide ranging crossposting. There is an option for moderators to switch that option off for their groups.

Survey Responses

The recent survey posted on Central highlighted the low response there is to polls, general discussions and polls. This is being discussed to see whether there is a way to generate more participation, either by establishing volunteer preferences for communications or the type of discussion forum we use centrally.


All volunteers are welcome to join Development Group - - and participate in discussions and decisions.

Jacky Development Coordinator