At the trustee meeting on 21 October the following discussions took place:
1. Funding of Remap
An email had gone out to all panels following up on trustees’ discussion about the future funding of Remap and proceedings at the AGM. The email confirmed the Chairman’s statement at the AGM that the best way forward was for panels to transfer excess funds over one year’s expenditure to form a fund that would be used to support Remap. This also addressed the problem of some fund handling not being SORP-compliant. A two-way flow of funds between panels and the investment fund was envisaged to avoid problems with panels having cash flow issues for example on larger projects. The money would be placed in a separate COIF account set up specially to hold contributions from panel reserves and inputs into it and payments out of it would be made transparent to panels. Holding the money in this way would also make it possible to account for restricted funds as required by SORP, and for this purpose it was essential to ask panels to provide documentation relating to donor-imposed restrictions.
As promised, further consultation with panels would take place about how the process would work in practice and the use to which the ‘common investment fund’ could be put to best support panels In the first instance it was envisaged that the panel contribution to central expenditure, this year agreed at £40k, could simply be drawn down from the account, but it still needed to be agreed how panel contributions would be set once excess reserves had been allocated towards stated aims and objectives. There was also an issue of how panel expenditure was assessed and recorded. It was decided that there must be a simple process to enable money to be transferred to any panel requiring support from the common investment fund. Contributions from panels as well as subsequent payments to panels would be recorded and cash flow history relating to the common fund made available to panels. This process would be the responsibility of the CEO.
2. Improving panel support
The CEO reported on the new materials that had been prepared: case cards, presentation folders and exhibition banners. Panels had been notified via the blog of everything that was available.
Only six case cards had so far been prepared, but the objective was to build up a large library of cards, every panel’s work being represented if possible. Panels would be invited to submit information and pictures to make this possible.
There was discussion about how many exhibition banners to have made to enable panels to have access to them when required without logistical problems. The CEO was asked to ensure sufficient sets were ordered to make this possible. The cost of these would come from the common fund.
The CEO also reported on the number of panels which had said they were seeking a new chairman. There was some discussion of forms of assistance that could be given. It was agreed that everything possible should be done to bring forward a training scheme for panel chairmen, and the CEO was asked to look into frequency of panel meetings and attendance at them as part of the panel profile that might underlie panels getting into difficulties. In addition, progress was needed to guidance to panels on obtaining new recruits.
3. Working with disability charities
The trustees had before them a paper setting out a potential project which had been put to the Department of Health for funding. The project was a new way of identifying people who needed Remap’s help and of planning the form of help which best suited them. The objective was to expand Remap’s reach by working in a way which provided the organisations concerned with a solid evidence base of benefits to clients rather than their having to rely on anecdotal accounts of success. This would encourage them to refer more cases to Remap.
The trustees agreed that the rationale for working in this way was strong, and that it was the right way to go even if this particular funding application was unsuccessful. The CEO emphasised that it needed to be piloted in a few panels initially, ones which were willing to make slight changes to the way they worked in order to give the outputs required by the referring organisations. The two key challenges were to have a process for identifying the true need and to have a second process for obtaining a greater amount of structured feedback from the client.
Several trustees said their panels would participate. The CEO said that the project would require additional resources, and if the funding application to provide such were unsuccessful than the project’s future would depend either on another application or on the network being convinced that it was the right way to invest in Remap’s future.
4. Management accounts
The trustees had before them the management accounts to the end of September 2011. The Hon Treasurer noted that expenditure was very much in line with the budget, other than regional expenditure being higher than anticipated because of regional meetings. £28k had so far been received from the legacy promised in early 2010, the delay in which had been a key factor in the cash flow problem towards the end of that year. A further £4k was expected. This made a total of £32k against the amount of £40k which was the amount anticipated by the solicitors for the donor before the problem selling the flat arose. Income at the half-way point of the year stood at almost £74k, with further grants promised that would bring the total up to £115k. This did not include amounts transferred by panels to the centre, which could not count as income since it was technically an internal transfer.
The Hon Treasurer reported that the financial position was better than it was at the same point in the previous year. However, the CEO said that Remap was losing its fundraiser, Jill Homewood, for four months at the beginning of 2012, due to hospital treatment and a period of unpaid leave following it. This would necessitate taking on a temporary replacement (at no greater cost), but it and all the external factors meant that fundraising would remain a matter of concern.
5. Investment of Remap funds
The trustees considered the subject of investment of Remap funds, and in particular an investment that had been made by a panel in an offshore bond. Given the trustees’ responsibility for the management of money and Charity Commission guidance on investment, it was decided that this bond was not a suitable investment for Remap. The trustees resolved to ask the panel concerned to immediately repatriate all the money invested in the bond to their UK current account.
The Chairman reported that Remapedia was being redone in Joomla. The data input/editing facility was in place and he had had a demonstration and felt it was working well. The CEO reported that the main website was being completely revised with the benefit of a new content management system. It would contain much more information and be easier to update. The work was expected to be complete and the new site launched in late November.
7. Regional meetings
It was agreed that following the regional meetings earlier in the year, at which it was agreed that regional meetings were a good idea which should be encouraged, steps should be taken to ensure a further series was held.
Various possible venues were discussed, and it was agreed to investigate the Derby Railway Museum and the Space Centre in Leicester.
9. Amendment to the Articles of Association
It had emerged that it was desirable to amend the articles of association to state specifically that they excluded the application of the model articles for charitable companies. This would most easily be done by obtaining a written resolution in accordance with paragraph 11 of Remap’s articles. The agreement in writing of 75% of the panels would be required, and this should not be a problem given that it would not change anything, it was merely a clarification of what was the case anyway.
The trustees resolved to set this process in motion without delay.
10. Date of meetings in 2012
The meetings for 2012 were set at:
Friday 20 January
Friday 11 May
Friday 19 October