Are we looking forward to being a membership charity?

A place to discuss the issues relating to the proposed change in the national CTC’s structure.
thirdcrank
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Re: Are we looking forward to being a membership charity?

Postby thirdcrank » 23 Dec 2009, 10:25am

charitywonk wrote:... if that is your beef. ...


I've no beef at all - in the sense beef = complaint. OTOH, good decision-making requires the best possible information from whatever source and when people sense that it is lacking, they tend to look for it. Reference to the good reputations of other organisations - be they other charities, lawyers or regulators - don't really advance things at all. In any number of spectacular crashes, the excellent legal advice was in place, and the relevant watchdogs were watching, but ultimately, they provided no more than an excuse for the people at the helm when the Titanic struck the iceberg.

On the specific point about legal advice - it generally depends on what question has been asked.

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meic
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Re: Are we looking forward to being a membership charity?

Postby meic » 23 Dec 2009, 11:23am

Charitywonk said

"As a charity we have access to an independent regulator."

Well this is true, however do we really want our "family budget" to be decided by an independent regulator? If you have no faith in your management you may want this safeguard. If you have faith in your committee this would be an unwelcome interference in our internal workings.

If the club goes bankrupt the Charity Commisioner gets to take over and decide how our assetts are disposed of, except if we have become a charity they of course would not be OUR assetts anyway.

I dont know about Thirdcrank but I am undecided on this issue. To accuse him of having a "beef" for merely asking some questions shows displeasure at someone wishing to be informed before making their vote, why?
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Karen Sutton
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Re: Are we looking forward to being a membership charity?

Postby Karen Sutton » 23 Dec 2009, 11:25am

charitywonk wrote:
thirdcrank wrote:I find it significant that Regulator was apparently recruited to provide the expertise for the project and has turned against it. No doubt others think he is wrong. It would be interesting to hear the other side of the argument from somebody who also has specialist knowledge.


According to the stuff on the web pages CTC got advice from CASS and Russell Cooke. They are both pretty respected names in the sector and neither of them would be willling to be dragged into the sort of mess Regulator is describing if they thought they were involved in something dodgy. CTC will be a pretty small client in their terms.

There are good and bad managements in every structure, this change won't resolve that if that is your beef. But at least with a charity you are legally obliged to show all your money goes to your purposes. At present the Directors could vote to send themselves or asmall group of their mates touring in Barbados and all we can do is deselect them at the next election. As a charity we have access to an independent regulator.


"But at least with a charity you are legally obliged to show all your money goes to your purposes."

This is where I have a question, which I will put to the appropriate person, which is how can CTC as a charity, show that the income from membership all goes to our purpose. If the purpose has to be deemed charitable how can we say that the member benefits such as the magazine, third party insurance, member groups, etc. are charitable?

thirdcrank
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Re: Are we looking forward to being a membership charity?

Postby thirdcrank » 23 Dec 2009, 11:38am

Karen S

Your editing has mucked up the quotes. You have got charitywonk saying something he was arguing against.

Edit : Graham - I hope I have just fixed that.

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Simon L6
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Re: Are we looking forward to being a membership charity?

Postby Simon L6 » 23 Dec 2009, 12:55pm

The one reason advanced for the takeover of the Club by the Trust that makes some kind of sense is the financial one. The CASS report projected a gain of £57,000 - but the greatest proportion of this 'gain' is actually a 'gift-aid' slice of the Trust's unaudited Contract losses. Now, call me old-fashioned, but wouldn't it be better to get a grip on the Trust's expenditure rather than to look to the Government to subsidise the losses?

BP - there will be at least one little 'nay' website, and there may be more. It will be a bit of a David against Goliath job, ranged against the might of Newsnet, direct e-mailing to members, the CTC website and those (frankly tedious) bits in the mag - how Dan must despair as he sees acres of newsprint disappearing under wodges of gobbledygook! Hopefully the 650 word piece that I've submitted to the next issue will be a tad more engaging!

It would be nice if the 'nay' vote could gain access to Newsnet, which, lately, seems to lead with nothing other than the 'pro' argument. Perhaps 'charitywonk' or 'biking bill' could have a word in the shell-like of those in the very highest places????????

Regulator
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Re: Are we looking forward to being a membership charity?

Postby Regulator » 23 Dec 2009, 2:51pm

charitywonk wrote:
thirdcrank wrote:I find it significant that Regulator was apparently recruited to provide the expertise for the project and has turned against it. No doubt others think he is wrong. It would be interesting to hear the other side of the argument from somebody who also has specialist knowledge.


According to the stuff on the web pages CTC got advice from CASS and Russell Cooke. They are both pretty respected names in the sector and neither of them would be willling to be dragged into the sort of mess Regulator is describing if they thought they were involved in something dodgy. CTC will be a pretty small client in their terms.


Russell Cooke aren't exactly the big league when it comes to charity solicitors. Yes, they have a bit of a background - but they're hardly the Oracle at Delphi.

And some of the concerns I have were clearly highlighted in the CASS Report.

To suggest that everything is OK because Russell Cooke and CASS were involved and "neither of them would be willling to be dragged into the sort of mess Regulator is describing" is just silly and displays a lack of understanding of what both Russell Cooke and CASS involvement was and what they were asked to do. Or it could just be that you're trying to muddy the waters...

There are good and bad managements in every structure, this change won't resolve that if that is your beef. But at least with a charity you are legally obliged to show all your money goes to your purposes. At present the Directors could vote to send themselves or asmall group of their mates touring in Barbados and all we can do is deselect them at the next election. As a charity we have access to an independent regulator.


Eh? Companies have an independent regulator as well. It is called the Companies Investigation Branch. .

For someone who supposedly has a background in charities, you seem to be rather vague as to the actualite.
Last edited by Regulator on 23 Dec 2009, 4:22pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Si
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Re: Are we looking forward to being a membership charity?

Postby Si » 23 Dec 2009, 4:01pm

I have been asked to relay the following to you.

Kevin says that the person who is using the account "Biking Bill" and "Charity Wonk" * is not he. Rather, it would appear to be a "friend of a councillor".

Kevin has also passed the link to this thread to the Council, so, hopefully the people that you have elected to represent your opinions will make known their views on this very important subject. Erm, your councillor has asked you what you think hasn't he/she?



*BTW it is against the forum rules to create multiple accounts in an attempt to make it look like more people are supporting your argument, no matter who you are, so please desist as I wouldn't want to remove you from the board altogether.

Karen Sutton
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Re: Are we looking forward to being a membership charity?

Postby Karen Sutton » 23 Dec 2009, 4:26pm

thirdcrank wrote:Karen S

Your editing has mucked up the quotes. You have got charitywonk saying something he was arguing against.

Edit : Graham - I hope I have just fixed that.


Thank you. I was going to try and sort it after thirdcrank pointed out my error but was sidetracked by having to go and shovel snow. I have only just got back to the thread.

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Re: Are we looking forward to being a membership charity?

Postby bikepacker » 23 Dec 2009, 4:47pm

Simon L6 wrote:It would be nice if the 'nay' vote could gain access to Newsnet, which, lately, seems to lead with nothing other than the 'pro' argument. Perhaps 'charitywonk' or 'biking bill' could have a word in the shell-like of those in the very highest places????????


We are a member driven organisation, irrespective what the Director and Council think. The membership should have all the facts and not allowing equal access to both sides is not democratic. Also it proves on a level playing field they do not have a stong enough case to carry the proposal.
There is your way. There is my way. But there is no "the way".

millimole
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Re: Are we looking forward to being a membership charity?

Postby millimole » 23 Dec 2009, 6:22pm

Heaven knows I don't understand the finances, even though I should given my background, but from what has been written in this thread it does seem that the charitable arm of the CTC has gotten the main organisation into the mire, and the solution being put forward is to convert the whole organisation into a charitable trust - somehow that doesn't seem to stack up with me.
The most compelling argument for me - given my understanding of the *current* state of play, is that once this is done, it can't be undone. Now this is a primae facie case for never doin' nuffin! But, the current proposal has the air of a desparate attempt to dig the organisation out of its hole.

Going back to when I first joined the CTC back in (about) 1971, it was a very different club - in a different society - but the focus was very firmly on its members and a core purpose to support the touring cyclist. Now, I see a lack of focus - the radar seems to be on all cyclists, all potential cyclists and all those with a beef against cyclists. My personal preference would be for a newly rejuvenated membership club to *support and encourage* all those members who use pedal cycles on the public highway, and this would certainly include a degree of campainging, but not the blunderbuss approach of late. I don't see how charitable status takes this very personal view of mine any further forward.

Nay.

drossall
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Re: Are we looking forward to being a membership charity?

Postby drossall » 23 Dec 2009, 11:13pm

I've been a CTC member for several decades, but I must confess that this had somewhat passed me by until I saw this thread. I find myself undecided, and rather thinking that many contributors here are making "in-crowd" references that I do not fully understand.

Various national membership organisations to which I belong are charities, without being the obvious Oxfam-type bodies that you first think of when that term is used. (I work for another.) They include, for example, the Scout Association and the Institute of Physics. As I understand it, and IANAL, the definition of charities is wider under UK than under, say, US law, and some UK ones would be not-for-profit organisations in the USA. However, we have to work with the law as it is here.

For me the IoP is an interesting comparison, in so far as part of its explicit charitable purpose is to promote physics, in such a way as to draw in the next (and current) generation to the activity, to the benefit of society. One of the reasons that I joined the CTC is that it does the same, and this is very much to my indirect benefit anyway; with more cyclists, we have more of a voice, and it's no accident that we are getting more noticed these days. Therefore I do not see the need to fulfill charitable objectives as an obstacle.

Most membership-based charities offer services to members, so that's not a problem either. You can't get financial advantage out of charity membership, so you can't get services that exceed your subscription in value, but magazines are commonplace, and the National Trust gives free entry to buildings, for example. I believe that the relationship between subscriptions and services may affect whether Gift Aid is allowed, but again IANAL.

I do not understand the references to doing government work under contract. If this is about supporting attempts to get "bums on seats", it seems to me to be rather obvious that an organisation committed to doing so would pick up health and environmental arguments to use alongside the long-standing ones of enjoyment and convenience. It would be mad to miss the opportunity. Is this the objection?

I don't really understand about restrictions on campaigning either. It didn't stop the Scouts on the water charges issue. I can't see the CTC taking a stance on who should form the next government, but on road safety issues what's the problem?

I would like to know more about how the charitable trust came about and why it owns the buildings (I missed all that too somehow). I'm not greatly attracted by the argument that says "We've gone this far and so we need to finish the job", when I don't understand why we went that far.

So, I set out and read the CASS report on the CTC site. It didn't help much, because it was mostly about structures. To be honest, I'd need a draft constitution before I could think about those, and I don't understand the current one. However, the table in Annex 1 seems to do both advantages and disadvantages very well, contrary to statements in this thread. Basically, it seems to say that, if you want to go in for campaigning, you're better as a charity, and if you just want to be an organisation for the members, maybe not.

As for members' control, I'm ambivalent on that. I hope that others here won't mind my saying this, but I know all too well that you can't please 60,000 people all at once. From the other side, it's difficult to feel that you have any kind of control when you are one voice among so many. However, a very large committee can, in my experience of the organisations of which I am a member, be slow and unfocussed. So somehow the central decision-making has to be by a group small enough to be effective, but accountable enough to be controlled. And at best I'll get to make only 0.000017 of any decisions (that's one sixty thousandth...).

Biking Bill
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Re: Are we looking forward to being a membership charity?

Postby Biking Bill » 24 Dec 2009, 7:44am

The origin of my comments on the forum are not complicated. I see something flying around my DA, sorry member group, first from South West London, then from the chairman of council.

So I ask people I know the question. Current and past CTC Councillors are not hard to find, especially if you go on CTC Tours or to the Birthday rides. And what I have found is that my friends are totally fed up with being rubbished on the forum and of things being said that they know to be untrue. I was told that the magazine is going to cover the issue and give equal space to those speaking against the charity on this forum, so the suggestion of anyone being squashed is plan wrong, and apparently those posting here know it, but they just continue anyway.

But people with real lives don't want to come on here and be told that anyone who speaks up is a management stooge and have their reputation rubbished by a viscious minority. Thank heavens for the last post above which seems to be open minded and thoughtful.

Where I do agree with Regulator is this. Go find out for yourself. But don't expect to find out on the forum. Make the effort to ask someone who was at the Council meetings and they wil tell you how people are actually behaving when decisions are made and whose opinion they trust.

I'm off on holiday now, Grandchildren calling. Let's hope for a happy CTC new year

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Simon L6
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Re: Are we looking forward to being a membership charity?

Postby Simon L6 » 24 Dec 2009, 10:16am

the position regarding communication to members is set out in my post above. Nobody's pretending it's anything other than it is. I'm hoping that Biking Bill will prevail upon his Councillor and others to allow the 'nay' campaign, such as it is, some space on Newsnet and share e-mails to members.

The HQ transfer is a bit mysterious. My understanding, which is open to correction, is that four councillors signed a piece of paper on fifteen minutes notice. I've spoken to two of the councillors, and neither appeared to be comfortable about it, and one of those two confessed to not entirely understanding the situation at the time. My understanding of the current position, again, open to correction, is that the Trust charges the Club rent for a portion of the building.

Drossall makes a valid argument for charitable activity. There is, however, the world of difference between bidding for a Contract and losing money on it on the one hand, and engaging the membership, setting clear goals, and supporting those goals with the members' money, and, hopefully, with the members' involvement.

The great virtue of voluntary organisations is that they capitalise on the willingness and flexibility of volunteers. Some of you will have seen that the Friday Night Ride to the Coast is teaming up with Martlet's Hospice in Hove to raise money for the hospice - plug for ride here! http://www.themartlets.org.uk/martlets_ ... hp?ID=5663 . Martlets, which is not the world's biggest organisation, has a near-seamless mix of volunteer and professional sides. 500 volunteers give of their time helping with the day-to-day running of the hospice, and help raise between two and three million pounds a year. By contrast the CTC Trust is a stand-alone operation (except when it comes to paying the bills). It doesn't capitalise on volunteer effort and expertise. It operates on an opportunistic basis, skittering from contract to contract, rather than on priorities set by the membership and informed by the membership's efforts and expertise.

I've asked John Catt, and I'd extend the invitation to Simon Connell and Biking Bill, to set out the income and expenditure of projects. There's no rush - the figures may not be ready to hand - but an undertaking to do so wouldn't come amiss. We'd then be able to talk about priorities, planned expenditure and risk. The current lack of information doesn't help - and it goes without saying that throwing all the money in to the one pot is hardly going to make matters more transparent

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meic
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Re: Are we looking forward to being a membership charity?

Postby meic » 24 Dec 2009, 11:24am

But don't expect to find out on the forum.

Why not?
I find out a lot of things on this Forum. Some of them are even true.
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mercurykev
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Re: Are we looking forward to being a membership charity?

Postby mercurykev » 24 Dec 2009, 11:51am

In the past I worked as a contract manager for the Government managing contracts delivered by 3rd sector organisations (you see in Government-land they don't even call them charities any more). My experience was that the act of delivering Government contracts diluted the reason for the organisation's existence in the first place. I'll try to explain using an example of a fictitious charity, TeenAction, set up by well meaning people to campaign for teenagers:

1) TeenAction bid for, and win, a Government contract to deliver services for teenagers. To deliver this service they employ some staff and hire premises.

2) 18 months to 2 years later the contract is nearing the end and the Government decides that teenagers are no longer as key priority. The Government wants the next contract to deliver services for all school age children, not just teenagers. TeenAction don't want to make their staff redundant and the management realise that they could deliver the service for the Government using their existing resource, in fact if they won the new contact they would be able to expand. They, therefore, bid for the new contact. The result of this is that TeenAction, a charity set up to campaign for teenagers is now delivering services for all school age children.

3) Time goes on and the Government decides that integrated services are the new thing, so the new contracts are for all school age children and unemployed young adults up to the age of 24. TeenAction don't want to make their staff redundant and the management realise that they could deliver the service for the Government using their existing resource, in fact if they won the new contact they would be able to expand. They, therefore, bid for the new contact. The result of this is that TeenAction, a charity set up to campaign for teenagers is now delivering services for all school age children and unemployed young adults up to the age of 24.

4) This process goes on and on until TeenAction doesn't actually do much Government contracted work that supports the key group that it was established to campaign for; however, TeenAction has grown, it employs a lot of people, the management all have well paid jobs and are friendly with important people in high places.

Anyway, that was a made up story but I saw it time and time again, where large, national charities had contracts to deliver services that had very little to do with their core groups. They were run by professionals who had experience of working in a number of 3rd sector organisations and did not necessarily have a real connection with the area the group campaigned in.

It is my opinion that if this move goes forward the CTC will turn into another big NGO, an eco-charity and it won't be about the members any more. Chances are that the professional, employed staff will view the members as an irritant that have to be put up with because they provide an income stream; although, this view may already be the case amongst the senior paid staff (who exactly pays their wages?).