The Dons Trust Board (DTB) held an additional board meeting at the Prince of Wales, Wimbledon on Monday 22 January 2018 to discuss priorities and ways of working for 2018. Ahead of publication of the redacted minutes, this article summarises the main points discussed.
The meeting was attended by DTB members Matthew Breach, Mark Davis, Tim Hillyer, Colin Dipple, Jane Lonsdale, Nigel Higgs, Cormac van der Hoeven, Roger Evans, Sean McLaughlin and DT secretariat members Tom Brown and Hannah Kitcher. Apologies were received from secretariat member Andrew Howell.
The meeting began with ratifying the decisions for Mark Davis to become chair and Matthew Breach vice-chair and for Sean McLaughlin to remain as treasurer. The board thanked Matthew for his six years as chair of the trust.
Mark Davis led a discussion to debrief on the DTB activities in 2017. This included what the DTB felt went well and what they would like to improve on. Highlights included the successful appointment of the new COO led by Roger Evans, Sean McLaughlin and Matthew Breach, the use of filming and discussion groups at SGMs / AGMs and use of surveys to find out members’ views.
Challenges from 2017 included the DTB’s perennial tendency to prioritise more than is realistically deliverable, especially during a period when DTB business has continued to be preoccupied by stadium matters. The DTB also needs to ensure that meeting papers are read and digested by all DTB members in advance.
The board discussed the priorities for the Dons Trust for 2018. Mark Davis ran through a list he had circulated ahead of the meeting. Tasks had been grouped into four categories. Priorities under the four categories included the following:
Oversight of AFC Wimbledon family, with particular emphasis on:
- oversight of the FCB and the Club, including the migration of important responsibilities to the new COO;
- continued oversight of the stadium project, including the commitment to consult members on options for dressing the stadium.
Strategy and organisation, with particular emphasis on:
- Galvanising the work on future organisation initiated in 2016;
- A review of the Constitution to get underway in mid-2018, once work on future organisation has progressed sufficiently;
- Elections and co-option policy (and, in particular, the cycle and timing of DTB elections, following an earlier consultation).
Engagement/communications. Engaging younger members and potential members is a priority, and it was recognised that this is inextricably linked to wider communications strategy, including:
- social media;
- a refresh of the DT’s website;
- Webjam (including options beyond the initial contract period); and
- creating vibrant meetings with members.
DT Operations, with particular emphasis on:
- Overseeing and supporting the secretariat;
- Overseeing and supporting the membership secretary (including migration of membership records to the CRM database);
- Data protection, ahead of new data protection legislation coming into force in May.
Recognising that the list of priorities remains as lengthy as ever, the DTB discussed how to divide the delivery and oversight of DTB priorities for 2018. They agreed that there is a need to be transparent with members about what they intend to achieve in 2018 and to report back on this at the end of the year so as to ensure accountability to members.
The DTB discussed the possible ways in which to achieve this. The board had at a previous stage organised its work into working groups. This had a number of advantages, including:
- Saving time in plenary DTB meetings;
- The opportunity to involve non-DTB members;
- Sharing the workload within working groups;
- Increasing accountability of DTB members;
- A structure for reporting to the DTB and to members.
The DTB agreed that the priorities identified fall under clear themes, which it is possible to organise into working groups. A discussion of individuals’ preferences for being involved in particular groups resulted in the following working groups:
- Oversight (Matt Breach and Mark Davis);
- Stadium (Colin Dipple, Roger Evans and Sean McLaughlin);
- Strategy and organisation (Matt Breach, Nigel Higgs and Tim Hillyer);
- Engagement and communications (Colin Dipple, Cormac van der Hoeven, Jane Lonsdale, Charles Williams);
- Dons Trust Operations (Mark Davis, Nigel Higgs and Tim Hillyer).
The DTB agreed that, for the groups to work most effectively, they would have their own set of objectives and a pre-established remit around what can and can’t be decided outside of monthly DTB meetings. Some subjects, such as oversight of the Club and the new stadium, would inevitably continue to occupy time in plenary DTB meetings.
The DTB agreed that each group should produce a terms of reference in advance of the next DTB meeting, so that by the next meeting the board will have an outline for each working group of what will be achieved in 2018. The DTB will expect monthly progress reports from each of the groups.
The DTB asked working groups to report back on any areas where they believe they have a skills shortage. The DTB will then explore whether it is possible to fill skills gaps through training (such as provided by Supporters Direct) or involving others in working groups. Co-option onto the board could be considered if the board as a whole lacks skills that are needed at board level.
Under AOB, there was a discussion of what insignia to put on Junior Dons gifts, in the light of 2016 discussions about updating the DT logo. The DTB agreed to put options for a new logo to DT members to vote on over the coming months. In the meantime, for purposes of Junior Dons gifts, the DTB agreed to use the club crest, with the words “AFC Wimbledon” above and “Junior Dons” underneath.
The DTB noted their thanks to Loretta Wheeler for all the hard work she did to organise the 2017 Junior Dons Christmas party. Sadly, Loretta has announced that she will not be able to arrange the 2018 Christmas Party due to time constraints. The DTB welcome any volunteers interested in supporting the organisation of the 2018 party.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:15pm.