I described the ‘fun’ bits of our Trustees meeting in my last blog. Here’s a summary of the official content!
The Trustees agreed that we must continue to focus on member retention and recruitment. They did not feel it was right to charge for services, unless as a percentage of a project. But we cannot be over generous. If we provide a service to external groups we must charge. INNOCASTLE is an example of people coming to us for our expertise and paying for it!
We agreed that the ICNT is a top priority for us, and plans for the Bermuda conference look fantastic! Continued support is needed to help nail down speakers and funding. Please make sure you register! We agreed to set aside £25,000 from the Conference budget line and INTO reserves to underwrite the 2019 Bursary Fund.
Furthermore, the Trustees discussed applications for ICNT 2021, all of which were very strong. The Board chose Herita in Antwerp as hosts. They also agreed to ask the Australian National Trust movement to provide a joint Australian proposal for 2023. (Anchoring down the conference for the next five years felt really good.)
We want to continue to have strong regional representation on the INTO Board and within the Secretariat. However, the Trustees felt that we cannot currently prioritise proactive support to Regional Groups due to lack of resource.
This strategy is about growing the capacity of our member organisations and helping establish new National Trusts. As we are making good progress, Growth therefore took up less of the Trustees’ time than other strategies. They were pleased to hear how well the mentoring pilot was proceeding and thanked all those who were involved. On the other hand, they were disappointed by interest in the last round of the Small Grants Programme. I have therefore been asked to review the SGP in the context of our new Technical Assistance Programme (TAP-INTO). I will also work with Bill on scoping out a new digital platform bringing many of these strands together.
Natalie will continue to lead the sub-group exploring how reciprocal visiting might come under INTO’s management. The Trustees liked her suggestion that we aim for a simple, ambitious goal (free reciprocal entry for full members of INTO) though we recognise that we will not get there immediately.
We clarified what we mean by ‘Voice’: Not advocating something to someone, but communicating how the National Trust movement can help address urgent societal needs. Oliver and Anita’s recent paper on the Sustainable Development Goals provides an excellent model. Collecting case studies from INTO members on a particular theme, adding an overarching message and then exploiting opportunities to use. Both as internal learning (for INTO members to be inspired by what others are doing) and external advocacy (demonstrating what is unique and special about the National Trust approach). They agreed to maximise the value of all the hard work that went into the SDGs paper. Therefore, Anita, Oliver and I will present the paper at the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP) 24 in Poland. It is already being used at the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) in New York.
We also agreed some future themes for similar ‘voice’ papers: economics of heritage; spaces and places of faith; indigenous people/diversity depending on opportunities to use externally.
The Trustees spoke about the Ambassador role and possible people to approach. I am going to prepare a short role profile, likely to include a minimum requirement of a) attending one INTO event a year and b) having a relationship with a lead INTO organisation in the country concerned. Additional asks would be around providing advice and support for INTO and opening doors to funders and influence.
This should have probably come first as the Trustees decided INTO’s 2018/19 overarching objective should reflect our focus on the Strength strategy! This is the year we need to strengthen our staff team so we can deliver more, and we hope a grant from a charitable trust will enable us to do that. One of the most important things we need to do is strengthen the help we can give our members (see above!).
On succession planning, we heard about Oliver’s plans to stand down from active volunteering next year. Dismayed but conscious that this is the right thing for Oliver, the Trustees all expressed their heartfelt thanks and look forward to celebrating all he has achieved for INTO in Bermuda. We also need to manage Bill’s retirement in the next 3-5 years. We will canvas Trustees about remaining on the Board and begin to identify skills/geography gaps.
It was felt that the paid Secretariat team would not grow hugely in the next 5 years, beyond that envisaged by our grant application. I will develop a Secretariat organogram based on our discussions, which will specify more clearly the roles we need volunteers to fill.
I will also be working with a small group of Trustees on a case for support for INTO, that will in effect be a new 5 year budget and business plan. We also agreed to be much clearer about what we expected from Trustees in future, possibly including more feedback before meetings to free up time for more detailed discussion on the calls.
All in all, it was a very useful meeting. It is a big undertaking to gather ten busy people from around the world and I am hugely grateful to those who were able to attend. As well as those who fed in thoughts in advance. Teleconferences are OK (and improving all the time) but nothing can beat actually meeting in person. Thanks to everyone who made it happen. Particularly our wonderful, wise and generous Trustees and Secretariat volunteers. We couldn’t do any of this without you.