AGM 2020 Minutes

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Minutes of the sixth Annual General Meeting held on Freegle Central between 00.00hrs 26 October 2020 and 11.59hrs 1 November 2020

Edward Hibbert (Board Chair) chaired the meeting.

Quorum Declaration and Apologies for Absence

A quorum was achieved of 38 Members attending the meeting by 8am on 27 October 2020. During the meeting, 2 more Members indicated their attendance, bringing the total attending to 40. One apology was received.

Edward welcomed everyone to the meeting.

Minutes of the last AGM held in 2019

These were approved unanimously by 21 votes as a correct record.

Matters Arising from 2019 Minutes

Recruitment of Volunteers

Edward outlined the areas that need to be explored.
There was a suggestion to allow groups to indicate whether they are looking for volunteers and, if so, which type. Edward asked for comments on how we can achieve this. He explained that:

  • We do not have a simple ‘Volunteer’ button for members but we do have a button in the Help section.
  • There is a long-standing plan to have “micro-moderation” tasks which are presented to more active members to see if we can get them engaged. Edward is still keen to develop this.
  • There has been no progress on automatically giving mod rights to members based on their activity, initially as a way of helping Mentors recruit permanent members. The Mentors team provide assistance to new volunteers by helping to recruit and train new moderator volunteers. They can’t provide more support in that area (or to find other kinds of volunteers) without more national volunteers who want to help provide it.

Sheila, Mentor Coordinator, explained that new volunteers to new and existing groups need to be trained and there are only two mentor trainers. This is limited by those volunteer’s personal phone contracts.

The regularity of commitment to volunteering with Freegle both nationally and locally is a problem, rather than the actual number of hours. Discussion on the problems and suggested solutions followed and included:

  • A more prominent report button for interested members.
  • Generate a pre-written request for volunteers to use on their groups.
  • Caretaker groups could be set to show that they are looking for volunteers by making these groups available to all moderators; this would spread the workload. The Mentor Team Coordinator felt though that all caretakers need to be on the Mentor team.
  • Finding a way of identifying and encouraging suitable members who may be interested in micro moderation tasks. This would include a way of exposing microtasks on Freegle Direct to suitable members, and somewhere on ModTools that mods could see/change who was seeing these.

Suggested micro-moderation tasks included review of spam, pending messages from unmoderated members, suspicious members, chat, welcoming new members, answering queries from all members and translation into other languages, eg Welsh. It was suggested that micro-moderation tasks be on a per group basis as not all groups will wish to use this approach.

Solutions and comments for mod training included:

  • Making mods self-sufficient in training new volunteers. This might be a good use of limited time and could be achieved by using training information available on the Wiki.
  • Vee, mentor trainer, offered to make available her training notes.This offer was gratefully accepted.
  • Centralised training information needs to be kept up to date and requires commitment.
  • Train the trainer sessions.
  • The Board could pay for Mentor trainer phone contracts.
  • Zoom for training.

Paying a Going Rate

Edward declared a conflict of interest and did not take part in the discussion other than to answer direct questions and to introduce the agenda item.

Edward, as Chairman, explained the Freegle policy is to seek to offer remuneration, whether as direct employment or as a Contract for Services, at least in line with a minimum equivalent full time salary for any particular job. This does not happen at the moment. The Board has been unable to find someone who can objectively determine the minimum market rates for the work that we contract out. He explained, however, the rates contractors are currently paid for two positions and how these had been calculated.

Chris Cant declared a conflict of interest as through his business he is also paid by Freegle for updating the Freegle mobile phone apps and also doing upgrades to Discourse, the wiki and other specific tasks requested by the Board.. He explained how he works and that the hourly rate is well below a commercial contractor. Chris pointed out that there is much technical support in Freegle that is done by volunteers.

Christian (retiring Board member) explained that review, including external proposals was made prior to the appointment of the CTO, and the person making the best offer was appointed. The CTO is paid significantly less than from a previous commercial contract His payment has been increased since the initial appointment. It is difficult to determine a fair level of pay as Freegle cannot afford commercial rates .Jane (Treasurer) summarised the payments made to contractors.

We cannot claim VAT back for contractors who are VAT registered. Edward said that we would need financial and legal advice if we were to decide to create a trading subsidiary which might enable us to pay less VAT and tax. We do not have anyone to lead on a task to investigate this.

Discussion followed on the difficulties of raising funds and allocating them in a fair way. The responsibility of raising funds lies mainly with Edward and this is conflicting for him.There was also a recognition of the large amount of unpaid work done by volunteers and the necessity to pay expenses so that they can continue to volunteer.

A proposal was made to bring about more equitable payments to the CTO which was later withdrawn. It was emphasised that the responsibility of payments to contractors lies with the Board.

The need to appoint a Finance Director was discussed and Edward as Chair explained what had been done and the difficulties encountered by the Board in achieving this aim.


We moved from Yahoo Groups to Discourse in October 2019.. Edward asked for comments on what is and is not working well.

There was a general consensus that volunteers prefer Discourse although it had taken some a while to get used to it. Some moderators do not like browser based groups and prefer to work via email. It was suggested that email as a method of working is becoming outdated. The search options, individual emails, approve icon, and the ability to use by phone and Modtools were mentioned as positive changes. Concerns were expressed with emails not going through and repeated 404 messages. Edward said we need to move to a more powerful server but has speeded up the current one temporarily.

Reservations and suggestions included:

  • The Coordinator of the Development working group felt it had lost its identity and asked if we could adapt to a new way of working. The chart in suggests that the number using the working groups is small.
  • There was support for working groups as a method of taking votes, sharing updates, highlighting problems and opportunities etc. Board meetings could then be restricted to more formal record keeping and decision making.

Edward suggested that Board meetings could be opened up to Members using Zoom, with Board confidential matters discussed in a closed meeting before the main one. Other platforms were suggested but he felt Zoom was now widely used and therefore more accessible. The Board could pay for a subscription if necessary.

Board Annual Report 2019

This can be found at:

Edward explained that translating our promotional material into other languages is very useful or essential when engaging with local councils.

Thanks were given to the board and every person mentioned in their report.

Finance and Auditors Report 2020

This can be found at:

Edward thanked Jane for maintaining our accounts

The results of the polls were:

  • 2020 Annual Report : 21 Members voted, 21 accepted the report.
  • 2020 Finance Report : 21 Members voted, 21 accepted the report
  • 2020 Disapplication of audit requirement : 21 Members voted, 21 accepted the proposal

Resolution - Spammers

A member requested that we discuss the resolution:
“All groups should have removal of known spammers turned on, as well as spam filtering. Groups who do not do this run the risk of bringing Freegle into disrepute and putting community members at risk, when people get scammed or get distasteful or upsetting mail.”

There are approximately 15 groups who have opted not to have removal of known spammers turned on and spam filtering.

Christian, Support, explained that requests to mark a member as spammer are carefully dealt with and it is not an automatic process. He gave more details of how they made decisions.

The resolution was passed. There were 21 Member votes in total. 20 agreed, 1 disagreed.

Notified Business - Board Members

We agreed that the Board should try to find group members who may be interested in helping the Board with crucial areas of management.

Director Election

Dee Moss and Cat Fletcher terms of office are now completed. Ray Owen and Christian Brenninkmeijer both decided to stand down at this time..

5 nominations were confirmed as candidates. As there wasn’t an excess of candidates for the 5 vacant posts, the candidates were all elected unopposed. Edward welcomed Dee Moss, Cat Fletcher, Michael Hoeben, Ruth Willmore and Craig Hilton to the Board.

End of Meeting

The AGM finished on 1 November 2020.