Groundwork governance website
Promoting good governance through the internet
Groundwork is a federation of 37 charitable trusts, all working towards a common vision of a society of sustainable communities which are vibrant, healthy and safe, which respect the local and global environment and where individuals and enterprise prosper. Each of the individual trusts has signed up to a Membership Agreement, which sets out a series of common aims, objectives and processes.
Groundwork tries to achieve their vision through a mixture of skills training, community work, improvement of outside spaces, and encouraging greener living and working.
Each of the 37 trusts has its own trustee boards and way of working and ensuring some consistency within Groundwork’s brand can be difficult. There are approximately 350 trustees in total.
What did they want to do?
Katherine Bryant is the Membership Support Manager at Groundwork UK and has responsibility for ensuring the consistency of governance across the federation.
Each of the individual boards was given a supporting guide, which outlined their roles and responsibilities. The problem with a printed guide was that at the moment it was printed it was correct but from that moment on it could not be guaranteed that trustees had the most up to date version.
How did they do it?
Groundwork could see that a possible answer to this problem was to post the information online. They already had an intranet for staff but trustees didn’t have access to it.
The Governance team decided to build a dedicated website, using the same CMS as their public site. The site took three months to build and cost about £800 including development, hosting and web address. It took approximately 3 weeks for staff to upload all of the material.
What started as a resource to post guidance for trustees soon became a useful home for news and updates, the one stop shop for all trustee related news.
Katherine checks the site every day to see if anyone has requested to join and if they are a known trustee then they're given access.
There's been no specific training on using the website as yet but Groundwork are encouraging their trustees to use it by keeping all documents on there rather than sending attachments.
What were the challenges?
- Stretched resources: Despite the website being a way to ensure information was up to date, resources for the project were quickly diverted to other projects. This meant the task of updating all of the materials didn’t happen as quickly as they had hoped.
- Not knowing their audience: Groundwork only have information about a named contact on each trustee board so they don’t have an overview of who their trustees are. This can make it difficult to target the information effectively.
- User buy in: There’s been mainly positive feedback from trustees to the site but there have been some comments that the content is too legal. This is interesting as it might signal a lack of understanding of the legal responsibilities for trustees.
- Consider how to sustain with reduced resources and funding.
- Get more trustees signed up and using it.
- Groundwork will ask for feedback from the trustees and use that to get more of them involved.
- Consider making the site more interactive.
- Putting news on in a more attractive way.
- Making use of voting polls.
- Bring in ways for trustees to talk to each other.
You can find out more about Groundwork at http://www.groundwork.org.uk/.
Advice and support
- Funding and finance
- Coping with cuts
- Addressing needs
- Managing change
- Planning for the future
- Involving people
- Public Service Delivery
- Governance and leadership
- Compact Advocacy programme
- Campaigning and influencing policy
- Collaborative working
- ICT (information and communication technology)
- Climate change
- People, HR and employment